Demonizing Israel Will Get Us Nowhere

Ben-Dror Yemini reacts to a recent article which called Israeli society an apartheid state. Israel is a multicultural society, he writes, and the existence of minor racist elements in a society doesn't make an entire country racist.

al-monitor Palestinians and left-wing activists hold large puppets during a protest against Jewish settlement activity in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of Arab East Jerusalem February 26, 2010. Photo by REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun.

Topics covered

jews, israeli-arabs, israel, gideon levy, apartheid

Nov 1, 2012

After it became clear that the apartheid headline was a canard, Gideon Levy has chosen to explain that even if he made a mistake, he was still correct in essence.

Yesterday [Oct. 29], Haaretz published a clarification with regard to a headline that claimed Israel was an apartheid state. This was not an apology; barely a clarification. It was on the bottom of the fifth page. Yesterday came the turn of the guest of honor [the apartheid article's author, Gideon Levy].

“I made a mistake, but” was the heading. When you read Gideon Levy’s article, it is clear that the “but” is meant to erase the “I made a mistake.” After he succeeded in causing tremendous damage to the public image of the State of Israel after his apartheid slander made waves all over the world — to Levy’s unconcealed satisfaction — now he explains that in fact, he didn’t really err at all.

So let us return to the facts of the matter. Today [Oct. 30], the Ruppin Academic Center is holding a public-opinion survey regarding “solidarity” in Israeli society. Eighty percent feel that the Arabs represent a demographic threat. Sounds scary. But is it racism? When we examine the issue a bit more deeply, it turns out that 90% of Jews support equal rights when these same Arabs serve in the Israel Defense Forces. In other words, we are not talking about racism but about a legitimate desire for a state with a Jewish majority, and differences of opinion regarding rights versus obligations. From the moment that Israeli Arabs are willing to be full partners — they suddenly become equal. That is not a magic trick, merely an absolutely political issue. We are left with the hard-core of 10 percent. Yes, that is 10% too much, but still 10% versus 90%. An amazing piece of data.

There is racism in Israeli society, of course there is. Every democratic society has its racist fringe elements. That is unfortunate. We must fight it. But Gideon Levy is not dealing with rectification. He transforms Israel into a monster. And there is no doubt that he is the best in his field. Once upon a time I thought that the man was in error, that he has good intentions. He wants a better society. But no, that’s not the story. Not with him. He transforms the 10% to 90%. That is his expertise.

Whoever calls Israel “Satan,” and argues that the Palestinians “sold their soul to Satan” with all their concessions (that never existed) to Israel, does not want peace and is not strengthening chances for peace. It’s not that the Palestinians need Gideon Levy to avoid making compromises. But Gideon Levy reinforces their intransigence.

To validate his obsession with apartheid and racism, that same Levy returns to the argument that 42% of Israeli Jews would not like to have Arab neighbors. And indeed, two years ago the Democracy Index revealed that with regard to neighbors, Israeli Arabs are much less tolerant than Jews. Does that turn them into racists? No chance that Gideon Levy would say such a thing about them. For them, it is permissible. They are not racists. Their desire to safeguard their cultural and ethnic community is not necessarily racist. In Hebron and Sheikh Jarrah, they don’t want Jews either. In Ramat Aviv, they don’t want ultra-Orthodox Jews. There is not an ounce of racism here. They simply don’t want to turn into Beit Shemesh [where ultra-Orthodox extremists harass their non-ultra-Orthodox neighbors].

Japan and Finland are countries with high levels of social solidarity, mainly because they are homogenous societies. There is no solidarity in multi-national or multi-cultural societies. These are the facts. But the fake enlightened people live in denial. They usually live in very homogenous environments themselves, in affluent neighborhoods, but they support the flooding of Israel’s south with infiltrators. They are in favor of solidarity with Arabs — on the condition that no Arab gets close to their own neighborhood. This is not enlightenment. It is hypocrisy.

Demonization is not criticism. Demonization means that you take the Jew, now Israel, and you defame the character of an entire country. In the modern era, this means taking Israel out of the family of nations and judging it according to unique criteria. It is not that the attitude toward minorities in Israel is worse than in Europe. It is not as if the Spaniards are excited about foreign neighbors. These phenomena take place everywhere. I have already given the facts above. But only Israel becomes an “apartheid state” that is wholly ultra-nationalistic and racist in nature. That is the very essence of demonization. And Gideon Levy is definitely a grand master in this field.

Israel is far from perfect. It has phenomena that we must struggle against. But there is a difference between “racist incidents” and a racist or apartheid state. When one suffers a wound, one needs medical treatment. A hatchet blow is not appropriate treatment. In fact, Levy already admitted that his real story is his opposition to a Jewish and democratic state. As far as he is concerned, that is an impossible connection.

Levy wants another entity to exist here instead. And as far as he is concerned, the end justifies all the nefarious means used to achieve his objective. And that includes the blow of an axe — from a place of love, of course.

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