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Anti-Semitism: See Under Hate, Envy, and Israel


Every weekend I go down to the American River to wash my eyes with its beauty, and to refresh my mind as to what truly matters. I have a saying: Every week that ends by the river, was a good week; every week that begins in the river, will be a good week. But a couple of months back when I went there for my weekend visit, I was shocked to see a swastika painted in white on the bike-trail, from where I take a small dirt path that leads to the bank of the river. I saw no one around, and still went ahead with stopping by my favorite tree on the small hill, washing my eyes with the beauty of the rapids, enjoying the cool breeze, marveling at the flight of the birds.

And yet, this incident kept rolling in my head weeks after I’d informed the police and the park authorities about it, and after I’d been informed by a Park Ranger that they erased it. I did visit the river again, of course, and was happy to see that the hateful emblem was no longer there. Still, with everything else going on around the issue of anti-Semitism—I don’t need to spell it out for you, do I?—I decided to jump into these turbulent waters, see if I can reach the other side with something of value to tell you.

Here’s what I found: The cause of anti-Semitism is rooted, first, in deep old hatred. Hatred that, for whatever reason, is ingrained in some people hearts and minds. I can hardly explain it, as I’m not sure I know where it comes from; but it’s being passed on from generation to generation. Some people are so full of hatred and resentment, it simply blind them to the truth. They bring up and educate their offspring this way, and the children grow up hating Jews, yet without knowing really why they do, just as other people hate blacks or gays no matter the progress we’ve made. That’s the reality that some people live with, while trying to inflict and spread their venom around.

For me, however the question of envy is more prominent. Let’s be frank about it: The Jewish people—wherever they were, however much suffering, atrocity, and misfortunes befallen them—always managed not only to survive, but to excel. They are successful in most things they try their hands in, with some of the best doctors, scientist, artists… you name it. No wonder no other group, race or ethnicity, while being such a minority, can claim so many Noble Prize winners among their ranks. And of course, the need to survive in tough environments and circumstances had thought them how to be good in business. Yes, with money. How to work hard and make a good living.

Nothing wrong with that. Except in the eyes of some uneducated people, who’d rather lay around drinking beer instead of getting an education, or working-skills. Some poor people hate rich people; some unsuccessful people hate successful people; some downtrodden people take these feelings of envy and resentment on the most obvious easy target: the Jews. In their misinformed minds, Jews are responsible for all their problems. If it weren’t for the Jews, they would be well off. They’d get their money and be successful without the need to work hard and get an education. Blame the Jews, it’s easier; unleash violence too, and conspiracy theories on them.

As of late, though, I find myself concerned more with another source for the prevalence of anti-Semitism. It’s the “New anti-Semitism,” as I call it, result of Israel’s government actions, and the attitude of its people. This reason for anti-Semitism, especially in Europe, is a cause for great discontent among Jewish people, especially here in America. Because, when it comes to Israel and the way it deals with the Palestinian people and issue—the occupation and military rule over other people, the constant violation of basic human rights—they prefer to look the other way.

But in the world we live in, this might be of greater cause for anti-Semitism. Many people the world over, most of them democrats, liberals, open-minded people—most prominently in academia, media, and the arts—refuse to look the other way when it comes to Israel’s constant abuse of human rights and international law. Of course, Jewish organizations here in America are quick to equate it—wrongly!—with anti-Semitism. Add to that the large immigration of Muslim refugees, in Europe and also here, from Middle Eastern and North African countries, and we have a combustible situation ready to be ignited.

The Israeli government, especially all these years under the rule of Netanyahu, had operated under the belief that the increase in anti-Semitic virulent sentiments and violent actions in Europe and America, will in return increase the immigration of Jews to Israel. Will help Zionism, the way they see it; decrease the unfavorable demographic situation, and will help deflect the need to solve the Palestinian conflict. Which, to a degree, is what has happened. However, it’s also very unscrupulous and dangerous, as it continues to cultivate and fester anti-Semitism outside Israel, with accusation of Apartheid state in-the-making, and with unforeseen consequences.

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Hail the Jewish State; Screw Democracy!

Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

That’s the bottom line, my friends, regarding the ‘Jewish nation-state law’ the Knesset had passed last week. You can twist it in so many ways, and amend it a hundred times more, it won’t change its premise and purpose. Because, what’s in that law when you actually read it (which I have done), isn’t so drastic on first and even second reading. It says nothing about the Arab citizens of the country being relegated to a ‘second class’ status, or about their language being relegated to a ‘second language’ (other than to say that “the state’s language is Hebrew”). Or any such wording that can bluntly be blamed for being outright racist. But it says a lot about the intent of the people who fought for this law to become a ‘basic law’ in Israel.

by Avi Katz

Case in point. But wait… just to clarify: Israel has no constitution, per se, and all attempts at creating it since independence have failed. It does have the ‘Declaration of Independence,’ signed by David Ben-Gurion and other brave men and women upon declaring independence, which until now has served as the principal document—sort of constitution for Israel and its citizens—and that among other things promised “complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants, irrespective of religion, race or gender.” This historic, monumental document—written and passed under the gathering clouds of war—is now rendered almost mute by the passing of this new, infamous ‘basic law’.

And a ‘basic law’, by the way, is sort of a constitutional law in Israel. It meant to guide the legal system and it’s more difficult to repeal than regular laws. (The last sentence in this law states that “This Basic Law shall not be amended, unless by another Basic Law passed by a majority of Knesset members.”) It is, indeed, the intent of the ‘framers’ in this case as well: To enshrine it as irreversible law. And the way Israel and its population go—i.e. right and very-right of center currently, intolerant and religiously zealot—it’s here to stay. The law’s main function and purpose is to serve as a springboard for generations to come. And for actions to come. Actions that will continue to erode the legitimacy and existence—as free, equal-right citizens—of the Arab citizens of the country, and the Druzes too, together over twenty percent of the population.

You see, what this law does—more than anything else—is giving another push, a strong, decisive one forward to the forces that oppose tolerance; oppose liberal democracy; support intolerance and even ‘fascism’ of sorts. The erosion, if you will, or the march of Israel toward an autocratic-ruled, semi-Apartheid country is being moved into high gear by this law. Which at the same time kick the ball—excuse the cliché, but I enjoyed greatly the just concluded month of the World Cup—of democracy, tolerance, equality almost out of the playing field. Time will tell, of course, but the momentum of Israel founding fathers’ endeavor, and their historic, thoughtful document is gone. Thrown by the wayside.

Now back to the above mentioned “Case in point.” I am fortunate enough to receive every Friday the e-newsletter of the ‘Consulate General of Israel to the Pacific Northwest,’ in which they tell us—Jews, Israelis—all there is to know (of course, what they want you to know) related to Israel, usually with a brush of pink color, on everything that took place the previous week. And so when I opened the latest newsletter, just a day or two after passing of the ‘nation-state’ law, I was immediately drawn to one headline, titled “Israel Is the Jewish State.” Wow… Really?!… Tell me something I don’t already know. Anyway, I follow the attached link, which opened to an article in the Wall Street Journal, titled “Get Over It—Israel Is the Jewish State.” Big deal. As if we didn’t know that already. As if before the passing of this law it was not the case. Or in doubt.

Just as was the case with the moving of the American Embassy to Jerusalem—which, by the way, has failed miserably so far to generate any other civilized nations (other than two small, bribed South American regimes) to join in—the declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was no big deal to most Israelis. We already knew that. It meant to create problems, which indeed it brought about. (The so-called Trump administration’s ‘huge, greatest peace deal of all times’ is dead before its arrival). It meant to push back the possibility of peace with the Arabs, which it has achieved spectacularly; it meant to continue the erosion of Israel as a democratic, liberal nation.

I will not go, here and now, into the details of the law—you can easily find it yourself in countless of articles online—other than to stress that it is indeed another milestone on the road to the cliff of hell. Too strong a wording, you say? Probably. But strong actions demand strong words. So let’s try it a different way: It’s as if another heavy stone has been laid on the grave of the liberal, enlightened state Herzl—the ‘visionary of the Jewish state’—and his brave, like-minded Ben-Gurion—who envisioned Israel as a liberal, democratic state for all its citizens. A “Light to the Goyim,” if you will. But no more. Screw the ideal of liberal democracy. We are living in the real, cruel world. Ideals are meant for leftists.

And by the way, here’s an anecdote, important though: Only two members of the Knesset abstained during the vote (passed by 62 to 55). One of them was Benny Begin, a member of the governing party the Likud. Even he, the son of Menachem Begin, the leader of the Irgun, the founder of the Likud, the first Prime Minister of a rightwing government in Israel, couldn’t—in all his moral consciousness, (probably hearing his father rolling in his grave—vote for this law. Not in my name.

* The “Leave a Comment” link is the last tag below, in blue.

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