'New Tribe' in Israel Betrays Lessons of its Own History

Article Summary
The anger accumulating in South Tel Aviv over the last month took a violent turn last week. What began as a demonstration against immigrants and asylum seekers quickly became a race riot. Shai Golden sharply condemns the scene of hatred and warns that the day Israel loses its moral warrant it will also lose its right to exist.

There is something rotten in the State of Israel. On the roads, the streets, the roadsides, the benches in public parks, the Internet — where not! In the past, Israel had only one famous genie locked up in a bottle, the ethnic (Sephardic-Ashkenazic) genie. Today, however, we have a whole corral of goblins: a kind of jail, hidden from the eye, home to all kinds of Israeli issues that we’ve repressed and hidden, goblins whose existence we have denied. Because after all, the Iranian bomb is on its way, or other such baloney that our ministers and generals force-feed us. They hope to blind us and turn us into the jail-wardens of our goblins, of the great fiasco that this state has become.

Our goblins are the hatred that we have quietly fanned here throughout the years; the animosity that we acquired for everything foreign and different, disguised as patriotism; the dangerous game we have played throughout the last decade of closing our eyes to injustices we have perpetrated with our very hands; the injustices that have infected everything; the inequality, lack of fairness and decency. The sleight-of-hand that says we are doing much better than the pessimists and doom-and-gloom Jeremiahs want you to think no longer holds any water. We have placed a very strong, sturdy cover on our Israeli genie-bottle so as not to sense, to see, to be forced to take action, but in recent months this cover has cracked at the seams, perhaps even broken open.

A crazy racist wave against foreigners has been flooding the streets of southern Tel Aviv in the last weeks, a wave that reached its height on Wednesday [May 30] and, I wager, represents just the beginning. It is only a matter of time until there will be serious casualties, drawn like a magnet to the evil metal of violence running wild in Israel in recent years: verbal, physical, ideological, political, moral, intellectual. Together they combined into the terrible spectacle that we beheld on Wednesday.

There is no need for more vulgar analogies. After all, the Israeli realities shames even the most cynical of historians. Here we are, a country of refugees who gathered together from all four corners of the world after suffering many hundreds of years from racist persecution, from discrimination, blind hatred, pogroms, death camps. Now we see how the members of the third generation to the revival of this nation are banding together against other refugees because they are different, because of their skin color, on the background of economic and social distress. They are acting exactly as did the members of the countries who hosted their parents and grandparents.

My God, the shame of it all. What a disgrace to be a Jew at this time, and see how your brothers act toward foreigners in your land. But again, this doesn’t surprise us. Or rather, it shouldn’t surprise us. The combination of raging ultra-nationalism with blatant separatism, the national collective paranoia and the cynical, dangerous game the government is playing all create a mosaic of uncontrollable impulses that bring back horrifying memories of those other days in the history of the world. And it’s happening here in Israel, of all places.

But the greatest horror of all, the greatest disgrace, is that there are many, many people within the borders of this small country who regard the kinds of things I say as heresy, treason, as proof of a person excluding himself from his original tribe. The new Israeli tribe — the one that the police has no idea how difficult it will be to restrain, once they start to riot — this tribe is using the power of its frustrated fist to create a new, ghastly Israel. A country of which I am embarrassed to be a citizen.

This Israel that divides the world into “with us or against us” is a country that is approaching the point of losing its moral legitimacy not only on the world stage (if it hasn’t already lost it there), but also within, at home. And the day in which it loses its moral warrant it will also lose its right to exist. We, as a nation, are facing this day. And now, the citizens and their chiefs must decide if they want to take part in this insanity, or stop it immediately. Here and now, in the clearest and most determined way. Or if they prefer to squabble a bit more among themselves, while destruction knocks on the doors of this house that we have established here in Israel.

Found in: racism. riot, violence, refugees, memory, israel, introverted society, infiltrators, holocaust

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