Shaul Rosenfeld

What about Arab racism?

Op-ed: Why does protest in the wake of rabbis’ letter ignore local Arab racism against Jews?

At the beginning of last week, they made do with ordering the prime minister to suspend the rabbis over their letter, stop funding them, and “completely halt racist legislation at the Knesset.”


By last weekend, after realizing their outcry remained unanswered, these men of letters – whose tortured soul cannot rest at these “terrible” and “racist” times – decided that all hope is lost and the rabbis must be fired at once, as “in the face of the abyss only two options exist – an enlightened, equal, free and normal state, or a criminal, violent and racist dictatorship that will ruin Israel.”


The dessert came in the form of an analogy to the Nazi Germany, what else, claiming that the letter written by the rabbis’ wives is “an almost exact word-for-word copy of the German original from Der Sturmer.”


At the beginning of this week, this spiritual vanguard headed to the horrifying source of the “racist Jewish dictatorship” – that is, the site of the Declaration of Independence in Tel Aviv. The fact that the drafters of the Declaration dared write that “we hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish State in Eretz Yisrael” was apparently forgotten by the spiritual dignitaries.


Yet amazingly enough, the two constitutive events of our national identity and existence, the Declaration of Independence and Law of Return, were not the work of this primitive bunch of rabbis, just like the rabbis had nothing to do with imposing a military administration on Israel’s Arabs during these early days.


Back then, these moves were perceived by the public, including men of letters of that era, as a justified and required implication of the notion of “Jewish state,” as well as a vital, existential response to the external Arab enemy’s acts and desires in 1948 (as well as the sympathy, solidarity and cooperation of Israeli Arabs.)


The words of then-Arab League Chief Abdul Rahman Azzam, who declared that the Arab invasion to Israel in 1948 will be a mass war of extermination to be mentioned in the same breath as the Mongolian and Crusader massacres” were still fresh, thereby preventing the Jewish citizens of the newly established state from listening to men of letters who are detached from the people and from reality and argue that the Arab enemy is merely a figment of the imagination.


Arabs always victims

Ever since then, the status of Israel’s Arabs has been continuously reinforced yet the better they do the graver their lamentations (as well as those uttered by their spiritual supporters) about the growing discrimination against them and the “unprecedented” Jewish racism against them. This terrible “Jewish racism” has become an unquestioned truth that is measured by the Israel Democracy Institute since 2003.


The Institute’s last report, which summed up the 2010 figures, showed that some 46% of Jews are bothered by Arab neighbors, 25% are bothered by gay neighbors, 23% are bothered by haredim, and 17% are perturbed by immigrants from Ethiopia. However, among Arab Israelis, tolerance to those different than them is much lower. For example, reservations over homosexual neighbors were expressed by 70% of respondents (with 67% bothered by haredim and 65% by former settlers.)


Needless to say that our media, as well as our finest spiritual folk, were wholly indifferent to the figures pertaining to Arab Israeli positions. The discussions and commentary that accompanied the poll’s bombastic headlines were summed up with one bottom line: “Look at how racist we’ve become” – pertaining to the Jews, of course, and only to them. Nothing was said about the Arabs, who were never racist apparently, but are only victims of racism.


And so, a TV crew was dispatched last week to explore the overwhelming racism around here, within Jewish society of course. They asked an Arab and a foreign worker from Eritrea to seek an apartment for lease among “Jewish renters.” Of course, they never considered sending a Jew to the Arab community of Aabalin. On the one occasion where a Jew sought to move there, he received death threats from locals and changed his mind.


Even if the rabbis’ letter is no more than an improper, foolish initiative that brings minor benefits but causes great PR damage, it at least granted us another opportunity to ascertain the nature of the hypocritical mechanism adopted by our cultural, media, and academic elite.


And so, a great gulf exists between a rather large Jewish public, who believes that loyalty to the state and failure to sympathize with its enemies are significant components in granting rights to its citizens, and an academic, media and cultural elite that is horrified by any such conditioning, viewing it as clear proof of Jewish racism. Some go as far as comparing us to certain states in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s.


At this time it wouldn’t hurt to also update Albert Einstein’s dictum that “two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity,” by adding the hypocrisy and self-righteousness of many of our authors, artists, journalists and lecturers to the list.


Dr. Shaul Rosenfeld is a philosophy lecturer



פרסום ראשון: 01.06.11, 16:22
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