Avnery; Hari debates Hizb ut Tahrir

Avnery on racists.

But the King of Racists is the Minister of the Interior. He is more dangerous than his colleagues because he has absolute power over the civil status of every person in Israel, immigration and emigration, the Register of Residents and the expulsion of foreigners. In this position he is now doing to foreigners what others have done to Jews in many countries. He is untiring in his efforts to guard the real Israel – not the “Jewish and democratic state” as it is officially defined, but rather the “Jewish and demographic state”. For this purpose he has recently created a special para-police force for the detection and deportation of illegal foreigners.

It is difficult to decide whether Yishai is an extreme fanatic or a complete cynic, or some strange combination. As matter of fact, when Shas was still a moderate party, in those distant days when its guru, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, ruled that it is permissible to give back the occupied territories, and its former leader, Aryeh Deri, was the darling of the left, Yishai, too, declared “Yes to Oslo, Yes to the evacuation of Jews from Hebron, Yes to Arafat!” But since then much dirty water has flowed down our polluted rivers, Shas has turned into a radical right-wing party and Yishai is now the most extreme rightist in the government.

His unshakable devotion to the purity of the race arouses admiration. Hardly a day passes without some shocking news about his activites. He fights like a tiger for the expulsion of 1500 children of foreign workers who were born in Israel, who speak Hebrew and attend Israeli schools, who have no other homeland. Yishai is ready to lay down his life for their deportation.

The Interior Ministry prevents the entry of American and European citizens who bear Arab names. Officials of the UN and the EU in charge of projects for the Palestinians are normally unable to enter from Jordan (or anywhere else outside Israel), and if they somehow do obtain permission – they are then forbidden to cross the Green Line into Israel. Foreign women married to Israelis are expelled without mercy. There is no end to the examples.

In the eyes of Yishai, every son of a Thai is an enemy of the Jewish state, every daughter of a Colombian worker is a threat to the purity of the Jewish people. He has declared that the foreign workers are an “infection”, and warned that Tel Aviv is “becoming Africa”. He has disclosed that the foreigners carry frightening diseases, such as AIDS, tuberculosis and such. (And in this respect they resemble gays and lesbians, who, according to Yishai, are “sick people”.

Such a person would not remain a minister in the cabinet of the US or most European countries. In the homeland of the Nuremberg laws he would not even come close to a government position.

Recently, during the operation “Cast Lead”, Yishai demanded that we “bomb thousands of houses, to destroy Gaza” – which does not hinder him from denouncing Judge Richard Goldstone as an abominable anti-Semite. He himself, by the way, never risked his skin as a combat soldier – this national hero served as an NCO for religious services in a transport unit.

800 years ago, Rabbi Moshe Ben-Nahman, called Nahmanides, coined the phrase “Scoundrel with the permission of the Torah” – meaning a person who does despicable things which are not expressly forbidden in the Bible. I am not sure if even this appellation would fit Yishai, since the Bible forbids more than once the mistreatment of strangers – “Ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless and the widow” (Jer. 7:6), “He…loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment” (Deut. 10:18) and many other commandments to this effect.

BUT More important than Yishai himself is the phenomenon that he represents: the invocation of the demographic demon, which terrifies the country.

62 years after its foundation, the State of Israel is still living in fear of the “demographic danger”. It is afraid of its Arab citizens, and therefore discriminates against them in every sphere. It is afraid of the 400 thousand Russians who have come to this country with their Jewish relatives in accordance with the Law of Return, but whose mothers were not Jewish. Here is a built-in contradiction: while the Nativ operators are interested in maximizing the number of immigrants, Yishai and his people deny these very same immigrants the right to marry Jews or to be buried in Jewish graveyards. They serve in the army, but if they fall in action they cannot be buried next to their comrades.

Practically all Hebrew Israelis want a state with a Hebrew majority, where the Hebrew language, culture and tradition are cultivated. But many of us do not want a man-hunting, woman-hunting and child-hunting state, closed to asylum-seekers, where foreign workers who outstay their welcome must live in permanent fear, like our ancestors in the ghettoes.

In order to exorcise the demographic demon, my friends and I have applied to the courts and requested that the registration “Nation: Jewish” in the Ministry’s Register of Residents be replaced with “Nation: Israeli”. Our application was rejected by Judge Noam Solberg – the very same person the Minister of Justice is moving mountains to get appointed as Attorney General.

Johann Hari debates Hizb ut Tahrir on youtube.

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