In response to this Nation piece entitled Feeling the Hate in Tel Aviv, which includes a rather disturbing video (includes racist remarks directed at Obama); a long time friend of mine who has lived in Israel and is an expert on Israeli culture and the Middle East conflict threw together some thoughts. She is very much a left winger.
I saw it. You can see the contradiction in the Kikar scene where one of the young guys pointed to himself and talked about not liking people who are dark skinned. One thing that the video does not do a good job is showing the context for these ideas, which are very complicated. Part of it has to do with the lack of international education and awareness, part of it has to do with the attacks that Israelis have suffered from since the beginning of the Second Intifada. This is a big factor. I remember being in Tel Aviv during the First Intifada and even in 1993 – when most Tel Avivis were of the mind set – the Intifada isn’t against me and I’m not against the Intifada.
Also I don’t think that Max Blumenthal knows Arabic. I was on the web just last night and I was watching a youtube video of a Yemeni Jewish dance and the comments in Arabic were completely anti-Semitic, stating that the Jews weren’t real Yeminis and that they were Zionists, that the women were whores. Last December one Rabbi in Yemen was murdered and it now looks like the very last Jews in Yemen are leaving. There were also anti-Semitic attacks in Europe, in Spain, in France, in Holland. One guy was tortured for 3 weeks and then murdered. This is not being reported by the mainstream international press, but it is being reported in Israel. South Africa is a leader in the Boycott Israel movement and calling for the replacement of Israel with a secular Palestinian state. There was a record number of immigrants to Israel from there in December. The economy in Israel is really awful 1/3 of Israeli children go hungry. The welfare state has been almost destroyed, but people are still immigrating because of this rise in anti-Semitism. What you are seeing is a cycle of anti-Semitism fueling racism, extremism fueling extremism. All of this on top of the on-going Israeli Occupation, and that is also on top of a general feeling that Israel’s right to exist is being attacked, and Israelis are in danger of having bombs dropped on them and the rest of the world doesn’t care. Such a situation is not one conducive to promoting liberal enlightened ideas.
I have been trying to continue this post and facebook is really annoying so I will try to be as brief as possible despite the fact that this is not a good format for dealing with this issue.
The west’s relationship with the Middle East continues to be exploitative – sell weapons of mass destruction and buy oil. Talk of the Nation had some guy on a couple of weeks ago wishing that someone would drop bombs on Israel after having read Carter’s book. There is your stimuli for Israel’s current hatefest.
10 years ago there was not massive popular support for the Occupation, but Israel was able to continue that Occupation with US support. Now the US has finally changing its policies but it is doing so at a time when Israeli cities have seen bombs drop on their civilians, when there is a regime in Iran that threatens to destroy Israel and is close to having a nuclear bomb and sponsors right wing Islamistists who try on a regular basis to infiltrate Israel and do in Israel what is being done in Iraq on a daily basis. Israel is not in the US it is in the Middle East and it is becoming like any other shitty Middle Eastern country. Americans and American Jews need to face the facts and deal with reality. And it is an ugly reality. The whole Middle East is an ugly reality. Cakha ze ha haim sham!
I realize some of these thoughts may fall on deaf ears as the American political approach to the issue pretty much breaks it down to an oversimplified black and white. But the end result of the progressive communities’ Arab good-Israel bad approach is pretty much guaranteeing a perpetual cycle of violence.