Saturday, April 2, 2011

Double standard on "incitement"

‘Foreign Policy’ runs piece describing Israel’s ‘carnival of hate’ toward Palestinians
Apr 01, 2011 03:11 pm | Philip Weiss

Matt Berkman writes about a letter to Hillary Clinton signed by 27 Senators condemning Palestinians for inciting violence and questions the double standard for incitement:

[I]f it is indeed the case that "words matter" -and if the elimination of violent and dehumanizing rhetoric is, as the letter says, "critical to establishing the conditions [for] a secure and lasting peace"-then what can explain the senators' silence on the veritable carnival of hate and racist incitement against Arabs and Palestinians that has lately engulfed Israeli society?

Anyone who reads Israel's press these days will find it difficult to do so without chancing upon yet another outrageous example of such incitement. Be it the declaration of Rabbi Dov Lior, a senior authority on Jewish law in the Religious Zionism movement, that the offspring of non-Jews possess "genetic traits" of "cruelty and barbarism"; or an open letter signed by dozens of Israel's municipal chief rabbis calling on Jews "to refrain from renting or selling apartments to non-Jews"; or the wives of those state-sponsored rabbis urging Jewish girls not to date, work with, or perform national service in the company of Arabs; or even news of the publication of "The King's Torah," a theological text widely endorsed by settler rabbis that authorizes the killing of non-Jewish children and babies, since "it is clear that they will grow to harm us."

Could it be that the senators who so rightfully condemn the glorification of violence when it issues from an obscure Palestinian official are simply unaware of the multiple proclamations of such a prominent figure as Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of the Shas party (a member of Prime Minister Netanyahu's governing coalition) and a former Chief Rabbi of Israel's Sephardi Jewish community? "It is forbidden to be merciful to [Arabs]," Yosef was quoted as saying in 2001, "You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable." More recently, Yosef sermonized that "Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] and all these evil people should perish from this world." "God should strike them with a plague, them and these Palestinians," he said.

...Not surprisingly, this rising tide of racism in Israeli society has translated into both discriminatory legislation directed against Israel's Arab citizens and into violent hate crimes which, while not as gruesome as the massacre in Itamar, are more pervasive, bordering on quotidian..

But it should be made clear that the routine acts of violence against Arabs within Israel - and even the daily pogroms, or "price-tag" attacks, inflicted on West Bank Palestinians by rogue settler bands - are only the tip of the iceberg. The whole wide-ranging system of occupation in the West Bank, and the hardhearted policies that promote the economic asphyxiation of the entire civilian population in Gaza - themselves the most deadly form of "incitement" - are underwritten on the ethical and cultural plain by the growing disdain and racial animus against Arabs in Israeli society.

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