Sunday, 24 March 2019

Is Israel becoming a racist theocracy or an ethno-religious settler state?

From gender divided campuses to religious books justifying the murder of non-Jewish children - Meet Israel's vibrant democracy

In an important article How the rule of the rabbis is fuelling a holy war in Israel Jonathan Cook points to the slide of Israel into what might be termed a racist theocracy bent on a holy war with a section of its own citizens if not those outside its borders. The question is how far is this true? Is Israel in danger of becoming a Jewish version of Iran or Saudi Arabia?
Israel is defined, according to s.1(b) of the Jewish Nation State Law passed last year as the ‘nation state of the Jewish people.’ As Prime Minister Netanyahu explained, ‘ Israel is the state of the Jewish people — and belongs to them alone,”. This was in response to TV presenter Rotem Sela’s plea

“When will anyone in this government tell the public that this is a country of all its citizens, and all people are born equal. The Arabs are also human beings. And also the Druze, and the gays, and the lesbians and… gasp… leftists.”
File photo The ultra-Orthodox campus at Ono Academic College, January 17, 2019.Olivier Fitoussi
Sela’s rhetorical question was itself a response to Culture Minister, Miri Regev, a self-declared fascist, attacking Benny Gantz, the main election contender, on Israel’s Channel 12. She accused him of only being able to form a government with the support of the Arabs. Shock horror! In Israel it is a taboo to form a government relying on Arab support.
Of course there are still liberal Zionists who pretend that Israel can be both Jewish and democratic. Ha’aretz posed the question as to whether Israel was ‘A Jewish state or a state of all its citizens? Or maybe both?’ It’s like asking whether a woman can be half-pregnant.  Either you are or you aren’t!

However what is equally, if not more important, than s.1(b) of the Jewish Nation State Law is s.1(a) which states that ‘The Land of Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people, in which the State of Israel was established.’ Yet it has gone virtually unnoticed.

Superwoman Gal Gadot who supported Rotem Selah and Netanyahu
The Land of Israel is as the law states, the ‘historic homeland’ of a mythical Jewish people ‘in which the State of Israel was established.’ In other words the Land of Israel is a rather larger entity than the current Israeli state. The Land of Israel is a coded reference to the biblical borders which stretched from the Litani river in the north to the Euphrates in the east and to the Nile in the South. In other words Israel has got plenty of potential for further expansion in the years ahead.
File photo - An all-male classroom at the Orthodox Jerusalem College, 2013.Emil Salman
We should disabuse ourselves of any idea that Israel is headed in the same direction as Saudi Arabia or Iran. Both the latter, which are self-described Islamic states, rest on a particular version of Islam, as a state ideology, whose purpose is to coerce and  legitimise the oppression of Muslims. Being a Muslim in either country does not entitle you to privileges, quite the contrary.
In Israel to be Jewish is to be privileged.  That is the main difference between Israel as a Jewish state and Iran and Saudi Arabia as Islamic states. This is the context in which the religious sector is gaining more power in Israel. I would argue that this increased power is both a political and a religious phenomenon and is directly related to the growth of the settlements and religious messianism. It is a religious variant of settler colonialism and its expansionist cousin. Just as the Jewish religion has changed from its anti-Zionist days and the belief that you couldn't hasten the day when the Messiah would arrive , so the secular nature of Israeli settler-colonialism is disappearing. Even the most left-wing secular Zionists based their claims to Palestine on god having given them the land.

Netanyahu tweets to tell Israel's Arabs that Israel is a state of Jews only
Jonathan cites the growing phenomenon of gender segregation at universities. There is a certain irony in Israel, which portrays itself as a modern, westernised state, emulating other religious states. However it is clear that the purpose of this is to integrate male members of the Haredi, ultra-orthodox sector into the ruling class of Israel. Access to university, which provides both the skills and socialisation is important in this  respect.

Ono Academic College which is a private college, has a specific remit to cater for minorities. Its purpose is in ‘utilizing higher education to foster social integration’.  To this end it holds studies on separate days for men and women and set days on which only women or men were allowed to use the library. It also put up discriminating signs around the campus. Also, many students who attended the segregated classes weren’t ultra-Orthodox at all.

Segregated graduation ceremony at Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox College, April 6, 2011
The most authoritative survey of the religious divisions in Israeli society and the political consequences  is Israel’s Religiously Divided Society, conducted by the Pew Research Centre 3 years ago. It found that Israel’s Jewish population was divided almost equally into secular and religious.  The latter category in turn was divided into Haredi 8% (Hasidic/Ultra Orthodox), Dati 10% (religious orthodox, right-wing and nationalist) and Masorti 23%, who can be best classified as moderate or modern religious.
There is little doubt that secular Israeli Jews are declining and the Orthodox, with their high birth rates, are increasing. In order to create a Jewish state, the secular founders of the Israeli state and successive governments made a pact with the devil in the form of the religious parties.
Ben Gurion and Mapai, the Israeli Labour Party, went into government with the National Religious Party for the first 30 years. The NRP at first was a moderate religious party.  However after the conquest of the West Bank and Gaza during the 1967 war the NRP moved to the religious messianic right helping form first the far-Right National Union and then the Jewish Home parties.
Modern Israel was born out of a pact between secular and religious Zionism. The support of religious Zionism was the price that the former paid for god blessing their settler enterprise. The labour Zionist parties, in particular Ben Gurion and Mapai, surrendered control of all personal matters – birth, marriage and divorce and death to the Orthodox Rabbis. The very definition of who is a Jew, a problem that has bedevilled the Jewish state throughout its history, was handed over to the Rabbis.
Why did this occur?  The answer to the question is very simple. In any state based on racial supremacy, be it White or Jewish racial supremacy, it is crucially important to be able to define who is and who is not part of the herrenvolk or master race. Who is it who is entitled to the privileges entailed in being part of the ruling section of society and who is confined to the margins?
In South Africa who was Black, White or Coloured under the 1950 Population Registration Act was determined on the basis of appearance and public perception. In Nazi Germany who was Jewish was defined from the arbitrary date of 1870, when German Jews became emancipated. Despite the pretence of being based on race, the definition of who was a Jew was in fact based on who was a practising Jew. Under the Nuremburg Laws 1935 which stripped German Jews of citizenship, having just one or two Jewish grandparents was enough to classify you as mischlinge (mixed race).
In Israel instead of civil service bureaucrats or racial scientists it is rabbis who determined who belongs to the nation and who is outside the national polity. This is because the definition of the Jewish nation/race is based on religion. Not of course any rabbis. Those who are Reform and Liberal/ Masorti rabbis are not recognised as Jewish.
The definition of who is a Jew for the purpose of immigration under the 1950 Law of Return, as amended in 1970, is effectively that of the Nuremburg Laws. Having one Jewish grandparent is sufficient to be classified as Jewish for the purpose of immigration. Non-Jewish spouses of Jews also qualify as do the non-Jewish spouses of their children. In the case of divorce then the non-Jewish spouse can be and is deported, which again is similar to the situation of Privileged Jews in Nazi Germany. The death of an Aryan spouse could mean deportation for the Jewish partner.
There is thus a few hundred thousand Jews in Israel who are in essence mischlinge. They can only marry their own. Because there is no civil marriage in Israel if they fall in love with a ‘pure’ Jew then they must marry outside the country.  In Cyprus for example.
Nothing illustrates more clearly the role of Rabbis as the guardians of Israel’s racial purity than the refusal of the Conversion Authority to accept Palestinians who wish to convert to Judaism. No such inhibition can be found in the Talmud as to which non-Jews are eligible or not eligible for conversion. This is purely a marriage of racism and religion.

Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz, the head of the government’s Conversion Authority was quite open about this.  “The threshold requirements” to be considered by the special cases panel, he said, “are that applicants be sincere and that they are not foreign workers; infiltrators; Palestinian or illegally in the country.” In other words  foreigners, ‘infiltrators’ (refugees), Palestinians or over-stayers are not, by definition sincere or honest.

More recently this was taken one step further.  The rabbis began to demand that couples from the former Soviet Union prove their Jewishness by taking a DNA test to prove who they said they were. The Jerusalem Post reports that the former and current Chief Rabbis Yitzhak Yosef and David Lau are promoting legislation that would allow the rabbinical courts to challenge the Jewishness of a person - even if he was not even registered for marriage, and did not apply for religious services, the report added. In 2017 there was a rabbinical ruling that permitted a genetic test of Jewishness despite there being, of course, no Jewish gene. This is pure, undistilled, racism.

One can just imagine what Hitler would have said if he had been able to lay his hands on a ‘scientific’ test to prove once and for all who was and was not Jewish.
In a society based on race and in particular a race based on a religious definition it is inevitable that those who make the ultimate decision as to who is and is not Jewish will be the religious authorities. This is the price of their participation in the Zionist project.  It does of course gives them an immense power which they are determined to protect.
This is the context for the gradual encroachment of forced religious observance into other areas of civil society such as bus seats, education and housing.
It also explains why, when the Israeli Defence Forces, attack Gaza they do it with the active support of the Military Rabbinate which sees themselves as providing the moral and religious backup to the flower of Israeli youth. A religious stamp of approval is given to the most murderous, cruel and callous acts. Nothing is too barbaric for these military rabbis.
Israel is unlikely to develop into a theocratic state.  Rather it will become an increasingly repressive ethno religious state.
Tony Greenstein 

13 February 2019
Palestinians, the secular and women all face a harsher environment as theocratic tendencies are entrenched
Middle East Eye – 13 February 2019
In which country did a senior, state-salaried cleric urge his followers last month to become “warriors”, emulating a group of young men who had murdered a woman of another faith?
The cleric did so with impunity. In fact, he was only echoing other highly placed colleagues who have endorsed a book – again without penalty – urging their disciples to murder babies belonging to other religions.
Where can the head of the clergy call black people “monkeys” and urge the expulsion of other religious communities?
Where does a clerical elite wield so much power that they alone decide who can marry or get divorced – and are backed by a law that can jail someone who tries to wed without their approval? They can even shut down the national railway system without notice.
Where are these holy men so feared that women are scrubbed from billboards, college campuses introduce gender segregation to appease them, and women find themselves literally pushed to the back of the bus?
Is the country Saudi Arabia? Or Myanmar? Or perhaps, Iran?
No. It is Israel, the world’s only self-declared Jewish state.
Which ‘shared values’?
There is barely a politician in Washington seeking election who has not at some point declared an “unbreakable bond” between the United States and Israel, or claimed the two uphold “shared values”. Few, it seems, have any idea what values Israel really represents.
There are many grounds for criticising Israel, including its brutal oppression of Palestinians under occupation and its system of institutionalised segregation and discrimination against the fifth of its population who are not Jewish – its Palestinian minority.
But largely ignored by critics have been Israel’s increasing theocratic tendencies.
This hasn’t simply proved regressive for Israel’s Jewish population, especially women, as the rabbis exert ever greater control over the lives of religious and secular Jews alike.
It also has alarming implications for Palestinians, both under occupation and those living in Israel, as a national conflict with familiar colonial origins is gradually transformed into a holy war, fuelled by extremist rabbis with the state’s implicit blessing.
Control of personal status
Despite Israel’s founding fathers being avowedly secular, the separation between church and state in Israel has always been flimsy at best – and it is now breaking down at an ever-accelerating rate.
After Israel’s establishment, David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, decided to subordinate important areas of life for Israeli Jews to the jurisdiction of an Orthodox rabbinate, representing the strictest, most traditional and conservative stream of Judaism. Other, more liberal streams have no official standing in Israel to this day.
Ben Gurion’s decision in part reflected a desire to ensure his new state embraced two differing conceptions of Jewishness: both those who identified as Jews in a secular ethnic or cultural sense, and those who maintained the religious traditions of Judaism. He hoped to fuse the two into a new notion of a Jewish “nationality”.
For that reason, the Orthodox rabbis were given exclusive control over important parts of the public sphere – personal status matters, such as conversions, births, deaths and marriages.
Biblical justifications
Bolstering the rabbis’ power was the urgent need of Israel’s secular leaders to obscure the state’s settler-colonial origins. This could be achieved by using education to emphasise Biblical justifications for the usurpation by Jews of the lands of the native Palestinian population.
As the late peace activist Uri Avnery observed, the Zionist claim was “based on the Biblical history of the Exodus, the conquest of Canaan, the kingdoms of Saul, David and Solomon … Israeli schools teach the Bible as real history.”
Such indoctrination, combined with a much higher birth rate among religious Jews, has contributed to an explosion in the numbers identifying as religious. They now comprise half the population.
Today, about a quarter of Israeli Jews belong to the Orthodox stream, which reads the Torah literally, and one in seven belong to the ultra-Orthodox, or Haredim, the most fundamentalist of the Jewish religious streams. Forecasts suggest that in 40 years the latter will comprise a third of the country’s Jewish population.
‘Conquer the government’
Both the growing power and extremism of the Orthodox in Israel was highlighted in the last week of January when one of their most influential rabbis, Shmuel Eliyahu, publicly came to the defence of five students accused of murdering Aisha Rabi, a Palestinian mother of eight. Back in October they stoned her car near Nablus, in the occupied West Bank, forcing her off the road.
Eliyahu is the son of a former chief rabbi of Israel, Mordechai Eliyahu, and himself sits on the Chief Rabbinical Council, which controls many areas of life for Israelis. He is also the municipal rabbi of Safed, a city that in Judaism has the equivalent status of Medina in Islam or Bethlehem in Christianity, so his words carry a great deal of weight with Orthodox Jews.
Last month, a video came to light of a talk he gave at the seminary where the five accused studied, in the illegal settlement of Rehelim, south of Nablus.
Eliyahu not only praised the five as “warriors” but told fellow students that they needed to overthrow the “rotten” secular court system. He told them it was vital to “conquer the government” too, but without guns or tanks. “You have to take the state’s key positions,” he urged them.
Law-breaking judges
In truth, that process is already well-advanced.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who should have been the first to denounce Eliyahu’s comments, is closely aligned with religious settlers. Tellingly, she and other government ministers have maintained a studious silence.
That is because the political representatives of Israel’s religious Jewish communities, including the settlers, have now become the lynchpin of Israeli coalition governments. They are the kingmakers and can extract enormous concessions from other parties.
For some time, Shaked has been using her position to bring more openly nationalistic and religious judges into the legal system, including to the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court.
Two of its current 15 judges, Noam Sohlberg and David Mintz, are law-breakers, openly living in West Bank settlements in violation of international law. Several more judges appointed to the bench by Shaked are religious and conservative.
This is a significant victory for the Orthodox religious and the settlers. The court is the last line of defence for the secular against an assault on their religious freedoms and on gender equality.
And the court offers the only recourse for Palestinians seeking to mitigate the worst excesses of the violent and discriminatory policies of the Israeli government, army and settlers.
Chosen people
Shaked’s colleague, Naftali Bennett, another ideologue of the settlement movement, has been education minister in the Netanyahu government for four years. This post has long been a critical one for the Orthodox because it shapes Israel’s next generation.
After decades of concessions to the rabbis, Israel’s school system is already heavily skewed towards religion. A survey in 2016 showed 51 percent of Jewish pupils attended sex-segregated religious schools, which emphasise Biblical dogma – up from 33 percent only 15 years earlier.
This may explain why a recent poll found that 51 percent believe Jews have a divine right to the land of Israel, and slightly more – 56 percent – believe that Jews are a “chosen people”.
Those results are likely to get even worse in the coming years. Bennett has been placing much greater weight in the curriculum on Jewish tribal identity, Bible studies and religious claims to Greater Israel, including to the Palestinian territories – which he wants to annex.
Conversely, science and maths are increasingly downplayed in the education system, and entirely absent from schools for the ultra-Orthodox. Evolution, for example, has been mostly erased from the syllabus, even in secular schools.
‘No mercy’ to Palestinians
Another key sphere of state power being taken over by the religious, and especially the settlers, are the security services. Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh lived for years in a settlement renowned for its violent attacks on Palestinians, and the force’s current chief rabbi, Rahamim Brachyahu, is also a settler.
Both have actively promoted a programme, Believers in the Police, that recruits more religious Jews into the police force. Nahi Eyal, the programme’s founder, has said his aim is to help the settler community “find our way into the command ranks”.
The trend is even more entrenched in the Israeli military. Figures show that the national-religious community, to which settlers belong – though only 10 percent of the population – make up half of all new officer cadets. Half of Israel’s military academies are now religious.
That has translated into an increasing role for extremist Orthodox rabbis in motivating soldiers on the battlefield. In Israel’s 2008-09 ground invasion of Gaza, soldiers were issued with pamphlets by the army rabbinate using Biblical injunctions to persuade them to “show no mercy” to Palestinians.
Call to kill babies
Meanwhile, the rapidly growing ultra-Orthodox population has been encouraged by the government to move into West Bank settlements purpose-built for them, such as Modi’in Illit and Beitar Illit. That, in turn, is gradually fuelling the emergence of an aggressive nationalism among their youth.
Once the Haredim were openly hostile, or at best ambivalent, towards Israeli state institutions, believing that a Jewish state was sacrilegious until the Messiah arrived to rule over Jews.
Now, for the first time, young Haredim are serving in the Israeli army, adding to the pressure on the military command to accommodate their religious fundamentalist ideology. A new term for these hawkish Haredi soldiers has been coined: they are known as the “Hardal”.
Brachyahu and rabbis for the Hardal are among the senior rabbis who have endorsed a terrifying book, the King’s Torah, written by two settler rabbis, that urges Jews to treat non-Jews, and specifically Palestinians, mercilessly.
It offers God’s blessing for Jewish terror – not only against Palestinians who try to resist their displacement by settlers, but against all Palestinians, even babies, on the principle that “it is clear that they will grow [up] to harm us.”
Gender segregation expands
The dramatic rise in religiosity is creating internal problems for Israeli society too, especially for the shrinking secular population and for women.
Posters for the forthcoming election – as with adverts more generally – are being “cleaned” of women’s faces in parts of the country to avoid causing offence.
Last month, the Supreme Court criticised Israel’s Council for Higher Education for allowing segregation between men and women in college classrooms to spread to the rest of the campus, including libraries and communal areas. Female students and lecturers are facing “modesty” dress codes.
The council has even announced that it intends to expand segregation because it is proving difficult to persuade religious Jews to attend higher education.
Violence of the mob
Israel has always been a society deeply structured to keep Israeli Jews and Palestinians apart, both physically and in terms of rights. That is equally true for Israel’s large Palestinian minority, a fifth of the population, who live almost entirely apart from Jews in segregated communities. Their children are kept away from Jewish children in separate schools.
But the greater emphasis in Israel on a religious definition of Jewishness means that Palestinians now face not only the cold structural violence designed by Israel’s secular founders, but additionally a hot-tempered, Biblically sanctioned hostility from religious extremists.
That is most keenly evident in the rapid rise of physical assaults on Palestinians and their property, as well as their holy places, in Israel and the occupied territories. Among Israelis, this violence is legitimised as “price tag” attacks, as though Palestinians have brought such harm on themselves.
YouTube is now full of videos of gun- or baton-wielding settlers attacking Palestinians, typically as they try to access their olive groves or springs, while Israeli soldiers stand passively by or assist.
Arson attacks have spread from olive groves to Palestinian homes, sometimes with horrifying results, as families are burned alive.
Rabbis such as Eliyahu have stoked this new wave of attacks with their Biblical justifications. State terrorism and mob violence have merged.
Destroying al-Aqsa
The biggest potential flashpoint is in occupied East Jerusalem, where the growing symbolic and political power of these Messianic rabbis risks exploding at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
Secular politicians have long played with fire at this Islamic holy site, using archaeological claims to try to convert it into a symbol of historic Jewish entitlement to the land, including the occupied territories.
But their claim that the mosque is built over two Jewish temples, the last of which was destroyed two millennia ago, has been rapidly reconfigured for incendiary, modern political purposes.
The growing influence of religious Jews in parliament, the government, the courts and the security services means that officials grow ever bolder in staking a physical claim to sovereignty over al-Aqsa.
It also entails an ever greater indulgence towards religious extremists who demand more than physical control over the mosque site. They want al-Aqsa destroyed and replaced with a Third Temple.
The gathering holy war
Slowly, Israel is transforming a settler-colonial project against the Palestinians into a battle with the wider Islamic world. It is turning a territorial conflict into a holy war.
The demographic growth of Israel’s religious population, the cultivation by the school system of an ever-more extreme ideology based on the Bible, the takeover of the state’s key power centres by the religious, and the emergence of a class of influential rabbis who preach genocide against Israel’s neighbours has set the stage for a perfect storm in the region.
The question now is at what point will Israel’s allies, in the US and Europe, finally wake up to the catastrophic direction Israel is heading in – and find the will to take the necessary action to stop it.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Boycott Eurovision 2019 in Israel and Tel Aviv Pride - More Apartheid Adventures

Celebrate Apartheid with a fun filled Vacation in Israel

Despite not being anywhere near Europe, this year's Eurovision is being held in Apartheid Israel. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is urging people to boycott this celebration of Apartheid

Why It Was not Anti-Semitic for Ilhan Omar to raise the question of Dual Loyalty

Those who accuse Ilhan Omar of 'anti‑semitism' are guilty of dishonesty and bad faith

Middle East Eye recently printed my article on Dual Loyalty, one of the most frequent Zionist tropes. Their arguments are dishonest and self-serving. I have made some slight changes to the printed version.

I’ve always had a problem with the concept of dual loyalty since I don’t owe loyalty to any state! I agree with what Marx and Engels wrote in the Communist Manifesto. The loyalty of the working class is to each other regardless of nationality not to ones ruling class.

Palestinians struggling against the Occupation have more in common with Black Lives Matter than with Mahmoud Abbas and his cronies. As Mohammed Ali put it, ‘No Vietcong ever called me a nigger.’

In the words of Samuel Johnson patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. Appeals to patriotism never apply to the rich and powerful who invest in the cheapest non-unionised labour regardless of country and then salt away their ill-gotten gains in offshore islands.

Cries of anti-Semitism[1]

When Ilhan Omar, the new Congresswoman from Minnesota responded to Glenn Greenwald’s comment that “It’s stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans.” by tweeting “It’s all about the Benjamin’s baby.”all hell broke loose.

The Forward’s Batya Ungar-Sargon asked Ilhan who she thought was paying American politicians to support Israel. In response she got a brilliant one word answer ‘AIPAC’. The air was thick with cries of ‘anti-Semitism’
Even Donald Trump, who came to power nakedly using anti-Semitic theme tunes, condemned the Democrats as the 'anti-Jewish party' for not condemning Omar's  'terrible comments'
Trump's 'fine people' at Charlottesville
Even Donald Trump, who came to power nakedly using anti-Semitic theme tunes and for whom the neo-Nazis at Charlotteville were ‘fine people condemned the Democrats as the ‘anti-Jewish party’ for not condemning Ilhan’s ‘terrible comments. This is the man who lit the fire that resulted in the worst anti-Jewish massacre in American history at Pittsburgh. The Donald does not do irony.
A Trump ad that was later pulled - Crooked Hilary complete with a Star of David
Ilhan then repeated much the same remarks at Washington DC's Busboys and Poets Cafe: ‘I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is O.K. for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”
According to Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine this statement was “much worse” than her previous statements, when she ascribed support for Israel to financial contributions from the lobby.
Accusing Jews of “allegiance to a foreign country” is a historically classic way of delegitimizing their participation in the political system.’ Michelle Goldberg in the New York Times accused her of waging a series of ‘microaggressions.

Talk of dual loyalty

So is it true? Is Ilhan Omar anti-Semitic and even more pertinently is talk of ‘dual loyalty’ in itself anti-Semitic? Well the first problem is that nowhere did Ilhan mention Jews. She talked about a foreign country, Israel.
The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, which Zionist groups have lobbied for strongly in Britain, a definition which conflates anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, states that ‘Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel... than to the interests of their own nations is an illustration of anti-Semitism.’
For Republicans support for BDS and hostility to Israel is equal to 'antisemitism'
The IHRA also states that ‘Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination’ is anti-Semitic! If Israel is the embodiment of Jewish self-determination, and it calls itself the Jewish state, then why is it anti-Semitic to accuse Jews of being more loyal to Israel? Would it be anti-German to accuse Germans of being loyal to Germany?
Others such as Philip Weiss in Mondoweiss have argued that far from Ilhan being anti-Semitic even many Jewish writers agree that the question of dual loyalty is no myth. Palestinian American Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib made similar comments when she said in January that Senate supporters of anti-boycott legislation “forgot what country they represent.”
If the concept of dual loyalty is anti-Semitic then that is because Zionism rests on the anti-Semitic canard that Jews, wherever they live, are aliens
If the concept of dual loyalty is anti-Semitic then that is because Zionism rests on the anti-Semitic canard that Jews, wherever they live, are aliens
So are accusations of dual loyalty, in respect of Israel, anti-Semitic? The first and most obvious point to make is that it is fundamental to Zionism that Jews form a single nation. If the concept of dual loyalty is anti-Semitic then that is because Zionism rests on the anti-Semitic canard that Jews, wherever they live, are aliens and not part of the nations among whom they live.
In 2015 after the supermarket killings Netanyahu told French Jews that their ‘real home’ was in Israel. A call repeated by Israeli Labour Party leader Avi Gabbay after the Pittsburgh murders.

Jewish nationality

Israel is unique among states in not having its own nationality. It has hundreds of nationalities but only one, the Jewish nationality, is of any importance. That is why Israel is an apartheid state. This issue was settled in 1972 in the case of Tamarin v State of Israel. George Tamarin wanted to change his nationality from “Jewish” to “Israeli” but the Court refused. Chief Justice Agranat ruled that:
 ‘the desire to create an Israeli nation separate from the Jewish nation is not a legitimate aspiration. A division of the population into Israeli and Jewish nations would … negate the foundation on which the State of Israel was established.’
The court went on to state that
 ‘There is no Israeli nation separate from the Jewish People. The Jewish People is composed not only of those residing in Israel but also of Diaspora Jewry.’
This decision was upheld in 2013 in Uzi Ornan v Ministry of the Interior.  The Jewish Nation State Law passed last summer makes it explicit that Israel is the nation state of the Jews, all Jews, wherever they live. That is why Netanyahu has described himself as the ‘Prime Minister of the Jewish people.’
On 10th March popular Israeli actress Rotem Sala asserted that “the Arabs are also human beings’, in response to an accusation from Culture Minister Miri Regev that the opposition in the current general election wants to form a government with the support of the Arab parties. In Israel such an accusation is almost like accusing someone of being a child molester. Netanyahu immediately wrote in response that ‘Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish nation – and it alone’.

Strategic interest

Half of the world’s Jews live outside Israel and are nationals of the country they live in yet Israel claims that they are part of the same nation as its own Jewish citizens. It is this claim, not what Ilhan Omar said, which lies behind the belief that Jews have a dual loyalty to both Israel and the country they live in.
Clearly it is not possible to be a member of two nations simultaneously (although legally one can be a dual national).
So when Ilhan Omar accused members of the Senate of spending time defending a foreign nation by attacking its own nationals’ right to free speech she is correct.
There is nothing whatsoever anti-Semitic in such an assertion. The reason isn’t so much ‘the Benjamins’ i.e. money but because support for Israel is seen as in the United States’s strategic interests.
Hence why some of the most vociferous supporters of Israel are not Jewish but fundamentalist Christians and many, such as Trump, are known for their use of anti-Semitic tropes.

Guilty of dishonesty

Ilhan was attacking all those Senators, regardless of religion, who voted for a Bill that prioritised the defence of America’s racist Rottweiler in the Middle East over the democratic rights of Americans.
Those who accuse Ilhan of ‘anti-Semitism’ are guilty of dishonesty. They are arguing in bad faith.
It is inherent to Zionism that the first loyalty of any Jew is to Israel because their stay in the Diaspora is temporary. ‘The negation of the diasporais fundamental to Zionist ideology. The accursed Galut (diaspora) needs to be wound up, although it is convenient having a large community in the United States that can lobby on its behalf.
When you support AIPAC, you support the interests of a foreign state, Israel

The wrong sort of Jews

This is not an academic argument. Like most anti-Zionist Jews I receive my full quota of abuse from Zionists. One of the most frequently used terms of abuse is to call us a ‘traitor’ to which I respond by asking who it is that I am disloyal to?

What lies behind this accusation is the belief that a Jew’s first loyalty is to the State of Israel not the country they live in.
That was why the Israeli Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Absorption distributed in 2013 a survey asking American Jews ‘where their allegiance would lie in the case of a crisis between the two countries.’
Netanyahu had the survey stopped in its tracks but what is interesting is that this survey was ever thought of. It would have been interesting to see the results!
Phillip Weiss cites a number of Jewish writers such as Joe Klein who wrote about the push to go to war in Iraq by the neocons:
The fact that a great many Jewish neoconservatives – people like Joe Lieberman and the crowd over at Commentary – plumped for this war, and now for an even more foolish assault on Iran, raised the question of divided loyalties: using U.S. military power, U.S. lives and money, to make the world safe for Israel.
When you support AIPAC you support the interests of a foreign state, Israel. As the former Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren tweeted ‘AIPAC is Israel’s national strategic asset.’ If anyone is questioning American Jewish loyalty it isn’t Ilhan Omar it people like Israeli government minister, Michael Oren.
Tony Greenstein