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Monday, 30 April 2018

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.”

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