Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Monday, June 25, 2012

It's Charley's Aunt from Tel Aviv - where the bigots come from....

OK, it's no surprise to hear about institutionalised racism in Israel. Let's face it, it's what Israel is about, its entire raison d'etre: giving preference to one racial group over another.

And the recent widely-reported surge in violence against African immigrants in Tel Aviv, with beatings, Kristallnacht-style destruction and looting of Africans' shops, blind eyes turned by police, and tirades of racist abuse from politicians: that raised an eyebrow or two for its brazenness - its chutzpah, if you will - but came as a shock to nobody.

But I have to confess that until I read this report I hadn't realised quite how bad things had got. I hadn't realised that the Netanyahu regime was proposing to ignore the Israeli Supreme Court and ban the immigrants from working. I hadn't realised that mass imprisonment in concentration camps was planned. I hadn't realised that the Interior Minister lied, and lied, and lied, about the immigrants' religion, about their criminal behaviour (actually the immigrants have a lower rate of crime than the local Jewish population), about their raping women and giving them HIV. And I hadn't dreamed that even in this grubby little theocracy, a member of the Knesset would deliberately incite the pogroms by referring to immigrants in overtly Nazi terms as "a cancer in our body"; nor that she would later apologise for the comparison, not to the immigrants but to cancer sufferers. Oh, and to Holocaust survivors: mustn't forget to apologise to them while doing your Stars-In-Their-Eyes tonight-Matthew-I'm-going-to-be-Joseph-Goebbels act. The sounds of breaking glass and breaking bones, and the sight of people being herded off into camps, might bring on distressing flashbacks: you must definitely apologise or they might become confused as to their whereabouts.

One refugee said of the Israeli government "They are forgetting their own history". Given the importance of what Norman Finkelstein termed the "Holocaust Industry" to Israel's sense of itself (to say nothing of its economy) that seems highly improbable. However, Marx observed that history repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second as farce. Clearly the racist vileness which the Jews suffered under the Third Reich was tragedy, and on a much greater scale than even Israel has yet aspired to. However, the present riots most definitely bring the racism built into Israeli political life - and indeed the more general racism endemic in Israeli society - to the centre of the world stage. If Israel's endless claims to being a first-world country, a democracy, with human rights and the rule of law for all - if those claims are seen by the whole world to be utterly false, what then? We may yet have the edifying sight of Netanyahu trying to run after all his erstwhile supporters among real democracies as they turn away in disgust and take their bottomless largesse with them. And as the bloated whiner trips over his falling trousers while trying to cling to the departing billions; well, then the farce of a racist theocracy pretending to be a modern democracy will be laid bare. It will be no consolation to the Africans whose lives and families have been destroyed by their misplaced faith in Israeli justice, Israeli freedom, and Israeli society: but if the present cheap knock-off of Kristallnacht - "cut-glass night", perhaps? - leads to the replacement of the Likud regime with something closer to democracy, well then, perhaps the farce will have a happy ending after all.


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