Israel’s Channel 10 has uncovered an astonishing display of Jewish racism not against Palestinians, but against fellow Israeli citizens, the Bedouin. It all happened in the town of Kiryat Gat, where the municipal and education authorities, and local police joined together to create a campaign against Jewish girls fraternizing with Bedouin men. In the YouTube age, they even created their own video, Sleeping with the Enemy (I kid you not).
Here is a translation of some of the interview footage from the news report, beginning with a propaganda lecture delivered to high school girls by the town welfare services representative:
Like they warn you to be careful while driving or when they warn you to be careful when swimming in the sea and there’s a black flag and a red flag–when it’s allowed and when it’s forbidden–the same thing we’re doing to warn girls of this unnatural phenomenon.
In an on-camera interview the representative continues:
The [Jewish] girls, in their innocence, hook up with Bedouin Arabs who exploit them. She sleeps with the enemy without realizing it.
The video also quotes from the Koran in an attempt to show the girls that Islam mistreats women.
Further in the video a representative of a religious organization which discourages inter-ethnic relationships talks about the deceit with which Arabs begin their flirtations:
The affair begins as superficial love which appears to be authentic. Many times the girl doesn’t even know she’s going with someone who is a minority. He introduces himself with a Hebrew name and speaks Hebrew fluently.
The idea that this project might be racist seems never to have crossed these people’s minds:
Whoever calls this [program] ‘racist’ doesn’t know what he’s talking about because we’re not talking here about mutual exploitation. We’re talking about racism on their [the Arabs'] part because they come to us to exploit the girl, then throw her to the winds once she gets pregnant. Then the whole problem becomes doubled.
Zvi Solow, who teaches at Ben Gurion University, provides this thumbnail political-economic-social sketch of Kiryat Gat, which helps explain the prudish, moralizing, and racist nature of this campaign:
Kiriat Gat is an ex “development-town” where in the early 1950′s Government settled mainly eastern-origin [Mizrahi] new olim and encouraged the then “traditional” blue collar industries to open plants in order to provide work. Kiriat Gat was the home of the Polgat textile network of factories and the now older-generation of its inhabitants mostly worked there. The Israeli textile industry went the way of most blue-collar industries in the age of globalisation and free trade. The last Polgat plant shut down some months ago, with the media featuring human interest stories of families who both worked there for decades and were facing either early retirement on a meagre pension, or life on the dole.
Anticipating this, all Israeli governments encouraged Intel to open its big manufacturing operation in Kiriat Gat and they just opened its second big plant there. Intel Kiriat Gat is a success by all the usual criteria, but for most Kiriat Gat inhabitants, who lack the necessary technological & linguistic (English) skills, it only offers menial jobs (cleaning, security etc). Most of the high tech people commute to work or choose to live in nearby moshavim or kibbutzim in one-family houses (they can afford it).
In the last decade, Kiriat Gat also absorbed a group of ex-Soviet olim, many of them retirees.
This demographic mix makes it naturally observant (Orthodox), conservative (Zeevik Boim now a minister in Olmert’s government, was for years its mayor on behalf of the permanent Likud majority), & of course hawkish & anti-Arab.
There are no neighbouring (by Israeli standards) Bedouin settlements, but the Bedouin town of Rahat is only about a 30-minute drive away.
Nana offers a longer version of the video and accompanying Hebrew language article.
Let’s keep in mind that not only are these Bedouin citizens of the State, they also serve important roles in the IDF as trackers. They are as loyal and willing to sacrifice themselves for the sake of their country as Jews. So why do some Israeli citizens consider them the enemy? If there is a social problem in Kiryat Gat with girls and unwanted pregnancies is this the proper way to approach the issue?