Israeli Rightists Threaten Arab Civilians

Israel’s right-wing leaders feel they can count on U.S. politicians to rubber-stamp pretty much whatever Israel does to the Palestinians, with some extremist rabbis even glorifying the racist mass murderer Baruch Goldstein. Which leaves Lawrence Davidson wondering what it will take to change behavior in Washington and Tel Aviv.

By Lawrence Davidson

In his speech to Congress on May 24, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boasted that “of the 300 million Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa, only Israel’s Arab citizens enjoy real democratic rights.”

This is, of course, a variation on the oft-cited claim that Israel is “the only democracy in the Middle East.” Leaving aside places like Lebanon and now potentially Tunisia and Egypt, one can ask just how “real” are these democratic rights the Prime Minister claims for Israel’s Arabs? Here is some recent evidence that speaks to this question.

–At the end of September, the Israeli government announced “a plan to displace 30,000 native Bedouin Arabs [all of whom are Israeli citizens] … from their homes [in the Negev].”

This would constitute “the biggest dispossession plan of Palestinians issued by Israel since 1948. It would forcibly relocate about half of the Bedouin population from their existing villages, which are older than the State of Israel itself.”

Why should Israel do this to the Bedouin? Is it to facilitate their enjoyment of their “real democratic rights”? Well not quite.

According to the head of the Regional Council of Ramat Ha-Negev, a Zionist settlement in the region, the reason goes like this, “I want the Negev to be Jewish. Jewish settlement must grow, must continue. What do you mean by ‘they [the Bedouin] also have rights’! You know what after all this it is no longer possible to conceal the core problem, which is the struggle over the land. Who does this land belong to us or them?”

–At the beginning of October, leaders of the Jewish settler movement announced what one analyst called their intention “to turn Palestinian population centers into another Srebrenica.” This was their reaction to the prospect of international recognition of a Palestinian state.

An article in Al-Ahram Weekly noted that “Kiryat Arba Rabbi Dov Lior, an extremist Talmudic sage, was quoted this week as calling for ‘collective punishment’ of Palestinians,” including children.

Initiating Balkan-style killing fields would represent a marked escalation of ongoing lower-level terror tactics which have seen the destruction of Palestinian crops, the harassment of Palestinian adults and children, the practice of arson against mosques, and the occasional outright murder.

While this threat was directed mainly at the Palestinians of the West Bank, the Israelis are bound by international law to see to their civil rights as well. And since Netanyahu’s vaunted claim implies Israel’s civilized, law-abiding status relative to the Arab states, that Palestinian population must be taken account of.

To show the extent of their respect for the rights of the Palestinians, settler rabbis have evoked the memory of their American-Israeli “saint and hero,” Baruch Goldstein, whose claim to lasting fame is the massacre of Muslims at prayer in Hebron back in 1994.

Baruch Goldstein

And, there has been much recapitulating of the message delivered in October 2010 by “the spiritual leader of Shas, the powerful religious political party that the status of non-Jews is similar to that of beasts of burden.” And just how many “real democratic rights” do the animals of Israel have?

–Just in case you think that these threats are hyperbole, take a look at reports and video on the recent pogrom-like violence near the settlement of Anatot. On Sept. 30, Palestinians along with Israeli allies came to help a Palestinian farmer plant trees on land he owns near the settlement.

They were attacked and beaten by settlers some of whom were armed policemen. The attackers have been accurately described as “nearly a lynch mob.”

Then on Oct. 3, a mosque in the upper Galilee village of Tuba-Zangariyye was set on fire by arsonists who left behind the message “Price Tag.” This is a terrorist tactic used by Israeli right-wing extremists.

Every time the Israeli government gets in the way of their racist and expansionist ambitions (which really is not often enough) the extremists retaliate with acts of terror against Palestinians.

Woeful Ignorance

The truth is that Arab-Israelis have always been second-class citizens, suffering systematic and state-sanctioned discrimination. Most of them are effectively segregated out from the majority Israeli Jewish citizenry.

In this way their “real democratic rights” are rendered largely symbolic. The only reason they are allowed to vote is because their votes cannot change the system that discriminates against them.

The Palestinians in the Occupied Territories are even more vulnerable. They are not citizens at all and, even if Israel annexes the West Bank they never will be. This is because making them citizens would greatly enhance the likelihood that Arab-Israeli votes might, in fact, become sufficient to alter the system.

The Zionists will never let that happen. If the choice is between democracy and keeping Israel a Jewish state, the Israeli establishment will jettison democracy without thinking twice. In fact, there is a portion of Israeli Jews who have already jettisoned any regard for “real democratic rights,” even for themselves.

It is interesting to note that 95 percent of the U.S. Congress seems oblivious to all this. Indeed, a good number of them recently went off on an all-expenses-paid junket to Israel which objective observers might consider the equivalent of giving material aid to a terrorist organization.

There is good reason to believe that this oblivious state of mind is not shared by many of their constituents who are slowly but surely being educated about the criminal nature of Israeli behavior.

Unfortunately these constituents have not, as of yet, made their representatives’ slavish attachment to Zionist lobby money and influence a voting issue. When will they do so? Perhaps soon after it is brought home to them that Israel, the “democracy,” has an unsavory resemblance to Alabama or Georgia in the 1930s and 1940s.

If the settler rabbis have their way this likeness will grow rapidly and thus become harder to hide. Through their sacrilegious misreading of the Talmud, these holy men appear anxious to bless lynching on all days of the week except the Sabbath.

It is not only American congressmen who are ignorant of Israel’s deteriorating national character. One might ask just how many Israeli Jews know how close they are to the precipice of committing pogrom-style violence or worse. Some of course do.

In a June 14 piece by Ilan Peleg and Dov Waxman they tell us “We believe that unless immediate, serious and dramatic action is taken to improve the situation of the Arab minority and majority-minority relations, great dangers are in store for Israel. It is no exaggeration to say that domestic stability, Israeli democracy and future Israeli-Palestinian peace could all be undermined by a continued deterioration in Arab-Jewish relations in Israel.”

But polls of Israelis show that the majority, caught up as they are in the dominant culture of victimhood and fear of the Arabs, are either ignorant of or unconcerned about the dangers of which Peleg and Waxman warn.

Indeed, most of them want the Arabs segregated or just kicked out and therefore have no problem with their society’s deteriorating majority-minority relations.

Lessons of Indoctrination

All of this raises some serious issues:

–For citizens of many countries, their national environment is like a great big Skinner Box, a laboratory apparatus devised by B.F. Skinner to study, condition and alter the behavior of animals. In other words, it is a hothouse of indoctrination.

Americans were taught to hate and fear communists, Russians were taught to hate and fear capitalists, and Israeli Jews are taught to hate and fear Palestinians.

Nation states do a good job at such indoctrination making it part and parcel of the acculturation process. And, under the right circumstances, whole populations can easily move from hatred and fear to actual mayhem.

–This sort of deep-seated indoctrination results in nationwide habits of thought that are remarkably hard to change. Think of the inertia of a large body, say a planet, moving through space. It is going to take a lot of force to overcome that inertia, usually force of catastrophic intensity.

To put it another way, whole populations trained to see the world one way, usually do not shift perceptions unless something really bad happens to them. That something can be military defeat, deep and unbridgeable societal divides leading to civil war, or the severe costs of isolation and economic boycott visited on them by the outside world.

The severity of these forces are testimony to just how stubborn indoctrinated populations can be.

Any way you look at it, the situation for those Palestinians under Israeli domination is likely to get worse before it gets better. And it is going to take a force of catastrophic intensity to really change Israeli behavior. My money is on BDS Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Offical Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism.

11 comments for “Israeli Rightists Threaten Arab Civilians

  1. Desmodia
    October 11, 2011 at 11:18

    And this has what to do with Israel? One or many terrible wrongs don’t add up to making another right.

  2. flat5
    October 10, 2011 at 09:24

    Here’s a lovely story for all of you Muslim Theocratic Government Lovers:

    Actress Marzieh Vafamehr has been sentenced to a year in jail and 90 lashes for her role in a film about the limits imposed on artists in the Islamic republic, an Iranian opposition website reported Sunday.

    “A verdict has been issued for Marzieh Vafamehr, sentencing her to a year in jail and 90 lashes,” reported.

    “Her lawyer has appealed the sentence, which was handed down yesterday (Saturday),” the report added, without giving further details.

    Vafamehr was arrested in July after appearing in “My Tehran for Sale,” which came under harsh criticism in conservative circles.

    The film, produced in collaboration with Australia, tells the story of a young actress in Tehran whose theatre work is banned by the authorities. She is then forced to lead a secret life in order to express herself artistically.

    The Fars news agency said the movie had not been approved for screening in Iran and was being distributed in the country illegally.

    Vafamehr was released in late July after posting unspecified bail.

  3. Robert
    October 8, 2011 at 22:52

    Blah, blah, blah from the hasbara. Israel is a colonial enterprise that is ethnically cleansing the West Bank of Palestinians. Israel routinely imprisons Palestinians without charges. Israel routinely targets civilians, and children. The causualty numbers don’t lie. Israel routinely spies on the USA. They kill US citizens. Israel routinely steals Palistinian land. Israel recives 3-5 billion$$ from the US taxpayer each year, and provides nothing. Name one thing that Israel does that benefits the US. Israel has the chutzpah to make following international law a “concession”. I look forward to the day, hopefully, when the US limits its economic support, and diplomatic cover for Israel. I giggle at Israel’s increasing isolation, all of its making. FYI, I am not an extremist, but rather a left of center Democrat with a professional degree. Robert

    • ignore
      October 9, 2011 at 10:35

      Blah, blah, blah from the arab hasbara

      I giggle at shalow haters increasing impotent frustration.

  4. flat5
    October 8, 2011 at 21:49

    srael is a Democratic Country. Israel is an open, pluralistic, and egalitarian society. Different religions, cultures, and social traditions co-exist. Protection of such diversity is embedded in Israel’s traditions and confirmed by the government. About 20% of the population (over one million people) are non-Jews, most of them Arabs, and some Druze. Like all other Israeli citizens, they have full rights to vote and to hold elective office. Both Arabs and Druze hold seats in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament. Every Knesset, since the founding of the State in 1948, has had Arab and Druze members. All transactions in the Knesset are simultaneously translated into Arabic, and Arab members may address the Knesset in Arabic.

    It is official policy of the Israeli government to foster the language, culture, and traditions of the Arab minority, in the educational system and in daily life. Arabic is an official language in Israel, together with Hebrew. Israel’s Arabic press is the most vibrant and independent of any country in the region. There are more than 20 Arabic periodicals. They publish what they please, subject only to the same military censorship as Jewish publications. There are daily TV and radio programs in Arabic, Arabic is taught in Jewish secondary schools. Israeli universities are renowned centers of learning in the history and literature of the Arab Middle East.

    Education and literacy of the Arab population in Israel is as high as and probably higher than in any Arab country. The literacy rate among Israeli Arabs is 95%, virtually the same as for Israeli Jews. There are close to 1,000 Arab educational institutions in Israel, with about 300,000 students — more than 200 times as many as in 1948, when the State of Israel was created. Ninety percent of Arab children attend school, probably the highest ratio of any Arab population anywhere. Israeli universities and technical institutions are freely available to the Arabs. About 5,000 Arab students attend such schools.

    Israeli Arabs Enjoy Full Equality in Law and in Fact. All religious communities in Israel enjoy the full protection of the State. Israeli Arabs — Moslems, as well as many Christian denominations — are free to exercise their faiths, to observe their own weekly day of rest and holidays and to administer their own internal affairs. Each community has its own religious councils and courts, and has full jurisdiction over religious affairs, including matters of personal status, such as marriage and divorce. The holy sites of all religions are administered by their own authorities and protected by the government

    In contrast to the non-Israeli Arab world, Arab women in Israel enjoy the same status as men. Israeli law grants women equal rights, including the right to vote and to be elected to public office, prohibits polygamy, child marriage, and the barbarity of female sexual mutilation. It has thus vastly changed the status of women, to far above that of any country in the region. Israeli health standards are by far the highest in the Middle East. Israeli health institutions are freely open to all Arabs, on the same basis as they are to Jews.

    There is, however, one difference between the “rights” of Arabs and Jews in Israel. Israeli and Druze men are required to do three years of military service and then serve one month every year until they are 50. Arabs are exempted from military duty and are not required to perform any compensating civilian service. Since the surrounding Arab states are the avowed enemies of Israel and dedicated to its destruction (there is “peace” with Egypt and Jordan), this exemption is granted by the Israeli government to its Arab citizens, so as to spare them conflicts of loyalty and conscience.

    Contrary to propaganda and to what many believe, the Arabs in Israel are full-fledged citizens, enjoy every right, have the same status in law as Jewish Israelis, and can freely move all over the country without fear of being harassed, attacked, or killed. That’s quite in contrast to the mortal dangers to which Jews are subjected when they venture into predominately Arab areas even within Israel proper. In summary, they enjoy the highest standards of living and liberty of any Arabs in the Middle East. In a recent poll, 70% of Israel’s Arabs declared that they identified with and felt loyalty to the Palestinians, and not to the state of Israel. Significantly, however, the same percentage (70%) declared that they would much prefer to live in Israel than in any other country in the area. And who can blame them? Life is so much better for them, so much more prosperous than it would be any place else. It is instructive and sobering to compare the condition of the approximately one million Arabs in Israel with that of the pitiful remnants of Jewry in Arab countries. Jews have been living in Arab countries for almost 2,000 years. Under Arab dominance, they were always third-class citizens and subject to harassment and persecution. There were about 900,000 Jews in Arab countries in 1946 — now there are fewer than 25,000. But there are now over one million Arabs in Israel, many more than after the exodus in 1948 — a manifold increase. That alone would seem to prove that things can not be all that bad for Arabs in Israel.

    • Sulphurdunn
      October 9, 2011 at 20:25

      Can Jews legally marry non-Jews in Israel? Are ultra-Orthodox Jews required to serve in the armed forces?

  5. ignore
    October 8, 2011 at 15:02

    The story, which focuses on the lie is not worth reading

  6. Andrea Moriah
    October 8, 2011 at 13:35

    Dear Prof. (and I use the term loosely)) Davidson. I live in Israel. My children were raised and educated in the Israeli school system. None of them hate the Arabs who live in Israel or want to see them segregated or kicked out. My children and the overwhelming majority of the people in Israel want to live in peace with the Arabs in Israel and those in countries surrounding it. Since the BEGINNING of Israel, throughout all the following years and through the Oslo process there has been hope that peace would come. Following Arafat’s intifadah (which occurred during my children’s high school years) there has been a marked increase in the hopelessness of finding peace between us and the Palestinians, but we have not given up hope. Ask yourself, what would the motivation be for a people to want to live in a war situation. Do you think we want to send generation after generation into war? You don’t ask yourself these questions because you have already decided what Israelis think and what their motivations are. Your arrogance is astounding. Your grasp of the issues and what concerns Israelis is non-existent. You have no inkling of our fears or hopes or desires or dreams. Your support of BDS is unconscionable. You are trying to demonize the State of Israel and you hope for its destruction. If the next round of annihilation of Jews happens within your lifetime, you can count yourself among one of the perpetrators. Congratulations! I bet you were born Jewish – am I right?

    • Hillary
      October 8, 2011 at 15:05

      “the overwhelming majority of the people in Israel want to live in peace with the Arabs in Israel”

      Andrea Moriah gives a typical response probably from a hasbara poster which has worked in the past but alas more and more people are finally becoming more aware of the truth about Israel’s illegal Apartheid Occupation and its ethnic cleansing of both Christians and Muslims from Palestine lasting for decades.

      Arabs in Israel are under occupation and subjected to “Ethnic Cleansing”

      Israel “your state wanting to live in peace” with its 20% Muslim population maintained Gaza under a land ,sea and air siege for years and then carried out a homicidal attack on Gaza they called “Cast Lead” and it was supported by the large majority of Jews worldwide including Israel.

      Judge Goldstone the Jewish UN representative who dared to tell the truth about Gaza and Israel’s crimes against humanity carried out in Israel’s “Cast Lead” attack was later “made” to change his mind by persuasion reminiscent of the “Inquisition” of the Religious Roman Church centuries ago.

      The wave of world wide Jewish support for “Cast Lead” including Jewish military volunteers from the US together with the presence of Israeli Military Rabbis blowing imitation “horns of Jericho” before the start of the “Cast Lead” massacre shows just how fraudulent your claims are.

Comments are closed.