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Hate Crimes and Misdemeanors


The anti-Semitic hate crime committed against the Jewish People yesterday is the product of the world we live in. Sad, despicable, horrendous as the carnage against the innocent worshipers at the ‘Tree of Life’ synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pa. was, it is not an isolated incident. Nor is it reserved solely for the Jewish People. It happened in churches, in kindergartens, in high schools, in music concert halls. It is powered by and irresponsible, bombastic rhetoric of politicians, and by guns in the hands of sick, hateful people, who spray bullets of death everywhere.

You may have heard of the ‘Proud Boys’, a far-right group of young, racist white males, full of hate and disposition on inflicting violence whenever possible, lately against progressive demonstrators in Portland, Oregon. If you haven’t heard of them, you soon will, just as you probably have heard of their cousins in Europe, especially in Russia, Poland, Hungary and Germany, where their main target of hate and violence are Muslim immigrants, refugees, and of course Jews, for no particular reason.

And talking about Jews, this is really what I wanted originally to tell you about. Because we, in Israel, have our own version of the ‘Proud Boys of Violence.’ Among their forbearers are the Israeli version of ‘La Familia,’ the staunch supporters of the Israeli soccer team ‘Beitar Jerusalem,’ of whom I just watched a most fascinating documentary on Netflix (highly recommended), titled “Forever Pure.” Their favorite slogan, shouted at every opportunity, is “Death to the Arabs.” They are the core supporters of the Likud, on whose shoulders (literally) both President Rivlin and Prime Minister Netanyahu rode to power. They had also, most probably, spewed Yigal Amir, the assassin of Prime Minister Rabin.

But no, today I’m talking about those who, as we say in Hebrew, are “Mamshichey Haderech.” The “Road Successors.” The young settlers roaming the hills of Judea and Samaria, wearing tzitziyot (fringes) and knitted kippahs, inflicting pain on the Palestinians of the West bank whenever possible. Whether they are shepherds leading their sheep and goats to pasture, or olive growers tending to their groves, you’ll find those Jewish ‘Proud Boys’ exacting pain on the local residents under the protection of the occupation authorities, and the Israeli Army.

Lately, they happened to throw stones on a passing car of a Palestinian family, causing the death of the wife and mother traveling in that car. Now you’d think, since those ‘Proud Jewish Boys’ did that in broad daylight and plain sight, that they would be caught by now, and maybe brought to justice. You’d be wrong. Three weeks later or so, they are free to roam the hills, inflicting pain and suffering again, putting words to action from the book of Beitar Jerusalem’s soccer fans, shouting “Death to the Arabs.”

You might also be saying: Wait, didn’t a young Palestinian man stab to death a Jewish man, a settler, not long ago? And didn’t another young Palestinian man kill two workers at the Barkan Industrial Park near the largest settlement of Ariel, and is yet to be caught? You’d be right bringing up these two cases to the forefront. And though one assailant was caught and already charged with murder in a court of law, and the other one is still on the lam, with the Israeli Army and the Shin Bet hot on his heels; and though their actions are not justified, should be condemned, and would bring the Palestinians no closer to their goal of a state of their own, the differences are striking.

These are act of desperation, by lone wolves, dying to die themselves, and are directed against the occupiers, who are terrorizing and controlling their lives since they were born. It’s an act of defiance, if you will. They do not operate under the cover of a large army, not even under the cover of their own Palestinian security forces. In ninety-nine percent of the cases they are either killed during their terror acts or end up in prison, spending their life there with many of their brothers. As I said, these are lone, desperate acts, not organized terror.

But the actions of these young, messianic settlers, are organized terror against the local Arab population. A “Jewish Terror Act” is how the Israeli media described it lately. They mostly act, wreaking their violence, with impunity. Under the protection—many time literally, as documented by plenty of videos, whereabout Israeli soldiers stand by and look on as they throw stones—of the Israeli Army, the occupation authority of the Israeli Government. What unite these ‘Boys of terror,’ these ‘Proud Boys of Violence,”—like the American anti-Semitic racist who murdered eleven people at the ‘Tree of Life’ synagogue—is pure hatred and the worship of violence.

* The ‘Leave a Comment’ link is the last tag below, in blue.

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The Battle Israel is Losing

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It would seem, to the casual observer, that Israel is winning on all fronts. Militarily, its army is unequal in the Middle East, and as result Israel—not from today, mind you—is no longer facing an existential threat to its existence. Forty-five years ago the ‘Yom Kippur War’ of 1973 was the last major war of such magnitude. Yes, Iran still possesses the power to be a major threat, but it still abides by the nuclear deal, in spite of America’s withdrawal from it, and begins to lose its grip on Syria, where Israel controls the skies, and where Russia calls the shots on the ground.

On the political front, while Israel continues to face challenges, the current situation still favors it. First, with its major ally USA, where the Trump administration is practically in PM Netanyahu’s pocket, and doing his bid. Every wish—from moving the embassy to Jerusalem, to cutting off all financial aid to the Palestinians—is being met. And while the EU, mainly Germany, France and the UK refuse to align with Israel’s demands and policies, other countries—Russia, Poland and Hungary—are eager to form new alliances with the Jewish state. Just as some Arab states like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt are eager to be among Israel’s friends, rather than its enemies.

Economically, Israel is flourishing, and its citizens—seventy years since independence—are mostly happy with their lives. Culturally, Israel’s artists continue to supplement American television with plenty of shows and creative personnel, and even one of Hollywood’s biggest stars du jour—Gal Gadot—is an Israeli. Another artist, Netta Barzilai, had won the last Eurovision contest and as result, the competition will take place in Israel next year. Even Israeli athletes—admittedly mostly not born and even raised for long in Israel—are making their mark and achievements felt in the international arena.

The Palestinian conflict, internally anyhow, while still possesses limited risks and threats—such as on the Gaza Strip’s border, and random terrorist attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank—is also dying a slow death. Even the threat of a new Intifada, following the USA embassy move to Jerusalem, didn’t materialize. PA President Abbas is old and ailing, and losing touch with his people, maybe with reality too, while still staying put and grooming no viable successor. Israel’s strong grip on the West Bank’s territories is unchallenged, and with it the settlement endeavor marches on, solidifying the occupation—most probably—for eternity.

Well, you may ask yourself—and me—if everything’s so good, what’s wrong? And which battle Israel is losing? Hang on, I’m coming to it: Israel is losing the PR Battle; the BDS Battle; the Cultural Battle; the Perception Battle. You name it—Israel is losing it. Here’s why and how:

To begin with, the current rightwing governing party in Israel—in power consecutively for almost eighteen years—greatest wish is for the Palestinian problem to go away. To be swept under the rug of history. And yet, it’s staying put and going nowhere. Even Netanyahu/Trump latest efforts, cutting off all financial aid to UNRWA, to an East Jerusalem Hospital, and to coexistence efforts between Israelis and Palestinians, and closing the Palestinian Diplomatic Delegation—the Palestinian de facto embassy—in Washington, won’t stop it. They are here to stay. And so is their just, unrelenting effort to be recognized as a people with a state to call their own.

The Palestinian cause and people are enjoying more support around the globe than ever before. In the UN General Assembly, where 137 nations have already recognized a Palestinian State, they will outmaneuver, and out-vote Israel and America easily. The move of the American embassy to Jerusalem has produced no followers, other than two small South American countries, one of which has already reversed its decision. Even in America, troubling signs are growing for Israel. The millennials—but also their liberal parents and grandparents, it is now apparent—are increasingly disillusioned with Israel and its policies; especially its treatment of the Palestinian people. These young people, whom we count on to bring change to this country, identify with the Palestinian cause and suffering more than with mighty Israel.

Israel—which is in the process of becoming less and less democratic—can arrest an American professors in the West bank, can prevent Jews and others they don’t like from entering the country all they want. But outside Israel, the BDS forces are winning the day. In the last couple of years more than twenty artists, mainly musicians, have canceled their trip to Israel as result of pressure brought to bear by that PR Battle. From Lorde to Lana del ray; from McCartney to Elvis Costello and Cat Power, they all have canceled gigs in Israel due to the BDS pressure.

Worst of all: Natalie Portman. The highly regarded Israeli born American star. Serious star, I’m talking about, not light star. She refused to come to Jerusalem to accept a special humanitarian prize in order not to shake hands with Netanyahu. The big win in the Eurovision contest is already marred with controversy (and I’m not talking about the song apparently plagiarized from an American pop song), and will not take place in Jerusalem—as the Israeli government so much wanted—but in Tel Aviv. Worst of all, the Eurovision governing body has sent Israel a letter demanding conformation that Israel will respect the human rights, traveling rights, speaking rights of all visitors coming for the contest.

Israel took offense, but the facts are, Israel is no longer considered a free, democratic country. And the problems with the Eurovision competition—Israel’s biggest chance to make amends, to rescue the cultural narrative—are just beginning. I foresee more to come, such as artists, winning ones in their countries, refusing to compete in Israel. Maybe even countries banning the competition altogether. ‘Wolf Alice,’ North London’s alternative rock band, signed a letter calling for a boycott of the event, together with musicians Roger Waters and Brian Eno, in addition to writers, theater directors and filmmakers.

Truth of the matter is, this is not really a PR Battle. Israel cannot win this battle no matter how much resources and personal its investing in fighting it. Because, this is really a ‘Heart and Mind’ battle. Maybe even an all-out war. Israel cannot win that war because the heart and mind of living, thinking, feeling people are not with the mighty power of occupation, settlement, and ruling over other people for so long. Israel is losing this fight because in the process of being so powerful, and winning in all the other fronts mentioned above, it lost its own mind and heart.

* The ‘Leave a Comment’ link is the last tag below, in blue.

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