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Kahanist Orthodox Right Seeks to Make Israeli Commerce Arabrein

lehava kashrut certificate

Lehava's 'Kashrut' certificate: making racism kosher

In Germany, Nazis were proud to empty important segments of society of Jews and make them Judenrein.  Ridding the nation of the noxious influence of Judaism became an idée fixe, an obsession and ideological underpinning of the fascist movement.  I’ve noted here in the past, most recently with the rabbinic editorial calling for death camps to be established for Palestinian Amalekites, how a similar obsession has crept into the consciousness of the radical right Israeli Haredi community.  This is nothing less than a campaign for the same type of racial purification embraced by Nazi Germany.

Reader Cicero forwarded me an extraordinary story in Walla which documents a Jerusalem conference convened by a new rightist group, Lehava (“Flame”) to rid Israeli commerce of the presence of Arabs.  They even created a Kashrut certificate, comparable to ones indicating a restaurant or food product have been produced under Rabbinic supervision.  The certificate is astounding.  The text reads:

Lehava: for the Prevention of Assimilation in the Holy Land

This is to certify that the owner of this business employs only Jews, and not the enemy.

He is faithful to the verse: “Your brother shall live with and among you,” and a partner in the war against assimilation in the land of Israel.

Hebrew Labor [a reference to early Zionist efforts to teach Jewish pioneers manual trades and professions they could never learn in Europe]

One of the conference conveners were quoted as saying:

The majority of instances of young Jewish girls wedding Arabs occurs because they (Arabs) are employed by Jewish businesses…We must force employers to fire the many “enemies” (Arabs) who endanger our daughters.

The initiative is part of a campaign among Israeli markets against employment of Arab workers.  Organizers plan to demand that major retailers honor such a boycott in order to retain their Orthodox customers.  Another slogan offered by organizers is:

Ahmed ben [son of ] Sara: we are obligated to prevent this!

german town judenrein

A German city declares itself Judenrein

From the great geshrei going up from the radical Rabbinical right you’d think miscegenation was an existential plague threatening the very existence of the State, religion and race.  Frankly, I’ve read or heard no figures which indicate that this is a prevalent phenomenon or anything that concerns any Israeli academic specialists, demographers, or any serious observers.  It seems akin to Republican wedge issues like abortion and gay marriage designed to whip the faithful into a frenzy and so retain their loyalty.

This general effort coincides with, and reinforces another major far-right Rabbinic initiative seeking to prohibit religious Jews from renting apartments to Arabs in Israel.  Taken together all of these initiatives recall nothing less than Nazi era racialism rearing its ugly head inside Israel.  Some have gone back to the Nuremberg Race Laws to find eerie echoes in the new Rabbinic promulgations.

One can argue that Israel is a nation composed of secular Jews who want nothing to do with this meshugas.  And that is true.  But the plain fact is that such racist attitudes are a reflection of the views a majority of Israeli Jews and not just the extremists among them.  I wrote here about a national poll that documented the astonishingly racist attitudes among all sectors in Israel, not just the Orthodox.  So in a sense one can argue that the Kahanist Haredim are the “early adopters” of these poisonous views.  But the rest of Israel is not far behind them.

The fact is that Israel’s Orthodox rabbis are political animals.  They know how far they can go before breaking societal taboos against racism and genocidal incitement.  They would not advance these ideas and insist that Orthodox Jews obey them were they not sure that the rest of Israel sympathizes with them to a greater or lesser degree.  The State of Israel could easily quash this nonsense if it had the will or interest in doing so.  These rabbis are wards (er, employees) of the State receiving stipends and salaries for the work they do.  Fire a few of their asses and you’ll see how quickly all this simmers down.  But the current government (and no government I could currently envision) would dare do that.  First, the ministers themselves by and large agree with such views.  And they know that a good share of their voting constituency does too.  So what’s in it for them?  Nothing.

There will be those Jew haters out there who will say to this: “You see, we told you so.  This is what the Jews are.”  To that I say most emphatically, No. This is not what all Jews are. This is what a very small minority of Jews in the world are.  These odious notions derive from an Israel which has enslaved itself to Occupation and hatred of the Palestinians living among them and next door.  This is a boil that must be lanced and the toxins drained off.  This is not a terminal condition for all of Judaism or even all of Israel (though this may be in doubt).  So let’s not make the mistake of joining with the Institute for Historical Review and David Duke in celebrating such sad developments.  For they bring no joy to me and should bring no joy to anyone.

{ 21 comments… add one }
  • Kibbutznik January 27, 2011, 2:01 AM

    ” But the plain fact is that such racist attitudes are a reflection of the views of all Israeli Jews and not just the extremists among them. ”

    All !!!

    Richard you post some really good articles but this is completely untrue and makes me wonder if you know us at all .
    Never put your faith in polls .

    ” For they bring no joy to me and should bring no joy to anyone. ”

    They bring no joy to me either or to all of us who are trying to fight the fascism from within .
    Read Gideon Spiro , is he not an Israeli ?

    Kach originated in your country , most of our religious extremists came here from America after the six day war because they thought god had a hand in it all .
    If we have enslaved ourselfes to occupation then your country has had the biggest hand in helping us to do so .

    ” One can argue that Israel is a nation composed of secular Jews who want nothing to do with this meshugas ”

    There are secular Jews who are Right wing just as there are religious Jews who are Left wing .

    Its not ” all ” of us Richard , thats like saying ” all ” Germans were fascists and ” all ” Europeans went along with the Shoah.
    A very American Right wing view .

    ” There will be those Jew haters out there who will say to this: “You see, we told you so. This is what the Jews are.” To that I say most emphatically, No. This is not what all Jews are. This is what a very small minority of Jews in the world are. ”

    Richard , not ” all ” Israelis are Jewish , but ” all ” Israelis are human beings and we are ” all ” flawed , sounds to me like you are apologising for being Jewish , better you apologise for being American .

    • Richard Silverstein January 27, 2011, 2:22 AM

      I think you missed the nuance I intended or else I didn’t express myself clearly enough. Clearly there are good-hearted progressive non-racist Israelis. And I hope you know my heart is with all of you in your struggle.

      But also clearly the vast majority of Israeli Jews harbor deeply racist views about any number of things including Palestinian Israelis. And clearly, your good-heartedness and that of Gideon Spiro and all the other wonderful Israeli allies & friends I have aren’t going to transform Israel into the non-racial, democracy we’d all like to see. That doesn’t mean you should give up the fight. It just means that the racism is too deeply entrenched to change Israel fr. within.

      And no, most of the religious extremists in Israel did not come fr. the U.S. though a good number did. You’ve also manufacturered a potent home-grown brand. And to blame Israel’s enslavement to the Occupation on the U.S. is simply foolish. I understand that you feel wounded by what I’ve written. But I personally think you’re reacting overly defensively to it.

      I neither apologize for being a Jew nor an American. And I’m starting to take offense at your snippiness & attempts to goad me. Don’t misread me. Don’t put words into my mouth. And don’t try to read my mind about what YOU think I’ve said. I can express myself quite well & don’t need you distorting my views.

      The poll was done by the Israel Democracy Institute & widely reported in both Israeli & foreign media including here. You should read it. It’s a very important survey.

      • free man January 27, 2011, 4:39 AM

        This group and it’s doing makes me sick as an Israeli.
        However one must read what is written there. The racism there is religious and not national, the same as the good old European Anti-Semitism.
        Don’t be intimidated by it, religious people throughout the world brew hate even within the different sects themselves: Catholic Vs protestants Christians, Shea Vs Sunni Muslims. Jews from different places don’t even pray to their god in the same synagogue. Each sect build their own.
        So don’t tell me it is all the Jews nor all the Israeli Jews….
        It is most of the religious Jews in Israel and much much less the secular ones.

        • Richard Silverstein January 27, 2011, 2:56 PM

          The racism there is religious and not national,

          Alas you are wrong. You’ve neglected the appeal to “Hebrew work,” which is a national (not religious) appeal. The ZIonists who created this slogan were building a nation, not a religion (as they were secular).

          We’re not talking about Orthodox Jews hating other Jews (which they do). In this case, we’re talking about homicidal rage, incitement & racism directed against non Jews who are Israeli citizens. The poll I posted about a few months ago proves you wrong. Hatred of Palestinians (& gays, the mentally ill & foreign workers as well) is very strong among all sectors, including the secular.

          a 5 people group of Extreme Israeli

          Oh, you were at the Jerusalem conference & counted the attendees? Then how would you know. I believe the Walla article said there were several hundred attendees though I can’t recall precisely. At any rate, the prime organizer is a follower of Moshe Feiglin, who placed very high on the LIkud Knesset list in the last election. You know, I’ll bet there were liberal secular Germans right up to 1933 who pooh-poohed the Nazi Party’s strength & never dreamed they would take over. So dream on if you wish. The rest of us don’t share your dismissive attitude toward the far right.

  • Shai January 27, 2011, 3:33 AM

    They’re basically calling businesses to break the law. It is illegal to discriminate by race. I would just close down businesses that displayed this monstrous trophy.

    • duck January 27, 2011, 6:19 AM

      And I would put them up against the wall and shoot them. With our current gov’t, they will probably get tax breaks.

    • Vicky January 27, 2011, 11:57 AM

      It’s illegal to discriminate by race – and yet it isn’t illegal. There are all sorts of purpose-built loopholes in Israeli law that enable employers, universities, and landlords to discriminate against Palestinians. These aren’t a few sneaky underhanded people playing an otherwise just system. The system itself is unjust, which is why menial professions like construction work are dominated by Palestinians and it is so difficult for them to get a foothold anywhere else.

      To begin with, a huge number of jobs are declared off-limits to Palestinian workers, usually because of supposed security concerns. The airports, El Al, armaments companies (most notably the Rafael Armaments Authority), prisons, Bezeq, the Electricity Corporation, the Mekorot water company, and the Bank of Israel have all invoked security as a reason for not hiring many (if any) Palestinian workers. In 2003, it was revealed that fewer than ten members of Bezeq’s 10,000 strong workforce were Palestinian. The company defended itself by claiming that it makes a policy of only accepting employees who have completed military service (as do so many Israeli employers). But who is this policy affecting? Not Israeli Jews, that’s for sure.

      These employers can claim that they are not discriminating against Arabs until they are blue in the face, but essentially it’s exactly what they’re doing – with government sanction. If anything, I have more respect for the rabbis who are issuing these edicts, because at least they pour out poison in plain sight and don’t make any attempt to disguise it.

      • Richard Silverstein January 27, 2011, 3:05 PM

        I suppose the rabbis & their friends would prefer Palestinians stick only to menial jobs like street cleaning, & washing public lavatories, though I suppose they can find a way to argue that even this is security related. That would further constrict their already meager job choices.

  • Kibbutznik January 27, 2011, 3:40 AM

    ” Clearly there are good-hearted progressive non-racist Israelis. And I hope you know my heart is with all of you in your struggle ”

    There are… and thats my argument , its not ” all ” of us Richard .

    ” It just means that the racism is too deeply entrenched to change Israel fr. within. ”

    and how do you think we are going to change things ?
    with Obama’s help ? give me a break .

    the change will come from within , might take us more than a few years but change will come and with no thanks to America

    ” Don’t misread me. Don’t put words into my mouth ”

    You said , ” But the plain fact is that such racist attitudes are a reflection of the views of all Israeli Jews and not just the extremists among them. ”

    Such racist attitudes are not a reflection of the views of all Israeli Jews nor are they a reflection of the views of all Israelis , jewish or not .

    • free man January 27, 2011, 4:43 AM

      It is funny that a 5 people group of Extreme Israeli gets a whole article here, but when I say “read the Hamas chqarter” which is makes what is written here a child scrible, I get dismissed.

      • Deïr Yassin January 27, 2011, 11:57 AM

        # Free man)
        Maybe because you’re approximately no. 10.000 coming around, saying “Read the Hamas Charter”. As with your “Guantanamo-comparison: if you want to discuss the Hamas Charter, there are hundreds of blogs where you can do that, and lots of them are even in Hebrew.
        Why don’t you open your own blog ?

    • Richard Silverstein January 27, 2011, 2:46 PM

      how do you think we are going to change things ?

      A solution will be imposed from outside. IT’s the only way. While I respect the Israeli left (what’s left of it), the left as a viable political movement is dead. Yes, there are NGOs and individuals doing wonderful work. But this will not change an entire system. This will not end the entrenched Occupation or persuade or force the powerful elites to give up their power. And you simply don’t have the votes to do so & will not.

      Go back & reread what YOU said. You said I was apologizing for being Jewish. I wasn’t. I told you I wasn’t. And now you willfully ignore the false statement that made me angry to begin with & return to a statement that had nothing to do w. yr claim I was apologizing for being Jewish. I’m not going to repeat myself. If you ever attempt to put words in my mouth that are false you won’t be here any longer.

      • Kibbutznik January 28, 2011, 12:24 AM

        The left as a viable political movement is NOT dead.

        ” And you simply don’t have the votes to do so & will not. ”

        You dont know that , nobody can fortel the future , not even you .

        ” ” But the plain fact is that such racist attitudes are a reflection of the views of all Israeli Jews and not just the extremists among them. ”

        Again I repeat , ” Such racist attitudes are NOT a reflection of the views of ALL Israeli Jews nor are they a reflection of the views of all Israelis , jewish or not . ”

        You want to shut me up go right ahead American then ask yourself whether you are any better than the right wing you despise so much , or should I say ALL of us that you despise so much ?

        • Richard Silverstein January 28, 2011, 1:18 AM

          The left as a viable political movement is NOT dead.

          What can you possibly be thinking of? How is the left a viable political movement? Given your involvement I presume w. Gush Shalom, you can’t believe that Labor or Meretz represent anything viable. Are you talking of Hadash? If so, my hat is off to you & it. But this isn’t a viable movement in the sense that it can transform Israeli politics or even give the prevailing powers that be a run for their money. I really don’t know what you’re smoking.

          As for whether or not the left has enough votes to do anything–the proof is in the pudding & in the elections. The number of seats held by left parties has consistently gone down. Perhaps Hadash has crept up marginally, but that is because of the bankruptcy of the more mainstream liberal/left. Where are the votes you’re seeing? Where’s the groundswell?

          Israeli NGOs are wonderful. Sheikh Jarrah. Bilin. All of its is superb and courageous. But you’re fighting a rear guard action trying to prevent outright fascism. Again, this is admirable and I mean this with all my heart. But this cannot turn Israel into a true democracy. Not unless there is the type of imposed solution which forces Israel to end the Occupation, recognize a 67 border Palestinian state, etc. There is simply no Israeli gov’t which is willing to do this now & perhaps ever of its own volition.

          You want to shut me up go right ahead American then ask yourself whether you are any better than the right wing you despise so much

          Now, you’ve truly taken leave of whatever sense you may’ve had. Personally, I’m beginning to think either you’re a troll sent by the other side or that you’ve lost all contact with reality as the rest of us know it. At any rate, you’re done with this discussion. If you accept this you are welcome to continue commenting in other threads. If you don’t you won’t.

      • John Yorke January 28, 2011, 3:45 AM

        ‘A solution will be imposed from outside. IT’s the only way.’

        I would agree with your statement entirely. The capacity for an internal settlement, never too promising at the best of times, looks to be even further eroded by the latest tranche of Al Jazeera documents and the loss of confidentiality that attends them.

        In the Nazi era, the solution was also imposed from the outside as I recall. That situation was eventually remedied. But only at immeasurably great cost and over many years.

        Will the same fate overtake the Israeli/Palestinian conflict? If so, then it may have to run its course for quite some while yet before anything resembling an outbreak of peace is achieved.

        It really is extraordinary how history so often repeats itself. Or how mankind insists on making the same old mistakes time after time.

        Perhaps we’re all being tested here, not only as individuals but also as a group.

        If that is the case, then I think we need to come up with a definite group response, one far better than the current crop of timid, lacklustre failures that it has been our misfortune to entertain on too many occasions.

  • Elisabeth January 27, 2011, 10:17 AM

    These rabbis can try as they like, but there is no stopping it: Even Captain Israel is dating shikses:

    And even the Jerusalem Post remarked on how he sports a rather goyische nose. Check out for yourselves:


    • John Yorke January 28, 2011, 4:41 AM

      Thanks, Elisabeth, for that introduction to Capt. Israel.

      I wouldn’t have believed it possible but there it is in black and white (or should that be silver and blue?).

      Are we soon, I wonder, to be favoured with a version of Major Palestine?

      I can hardly wait to see how that colour scheme works out. (Red, black, white , green – an interesting combination, no doubt.)

  • John Yorke January 27, 2011, 12:19 PM

    That business with the Nazis again; always a recurring motif in the Israeli consciousness. And in many others also. Even here in the UK it still holds a certain fascination, a focal point for generations not even born when all of that was taking place.

    And yet, according to the historical record, WW2 was avoidable. So, too, were the many millions of dead and injured that were part of its legacy. In hindsight, it could be argued that, had sufficient determination and force been used to head off German expansion at the time, the whole matter could have easily been contained and some alternate and better path then taken.

    It seems that Jewish expansion has been causing similar headaches and the response appears to be much the same as it was back there in the ’30s. An inability to focus on the primary issues, no meeting of minds, too many differing agendas, no one direction towards a common purpose. In short, nothing substantial standing in the way of a disaster waiting to happen.

    The problem, then and now, has been that the overall picture never quite stands still for long enough. The situation moves on at too fast a pace, allowing only for instant analysis and summary judgement. By the time we’ve figured out what’s really happened and who the culprit is, some other incident or battleground makes new demands on our attention, new calls for our appraisal and condemnation.
    We cannot seem to focus; the speed of so much of what is happening closes down any unified, appropriate reaction from all of us. We are having to continually update and reassess the merits and demerits on both sides, measuring them against our own prejudices and preferences and then finding that we ourselves remain uncertain, too unsure to decide on anything other than recycled calls for peace and the avoidance of any positive action on our part. Although nearly a century has passed, we still seem to be making the same old mistakes we did back then.

    We need to slow this whole thing down, slow enough to see it as we should be seeing it. Clearly and dispassionately; free from the constant distraction that violence and propaganda bring to this type of conflict.

    But can it ever be slowed down? And if it can, then how is this to be done?

    As with most things in life, the answer is often a very simple one.

  • Haver January 31, 2011, 5:12 AM

    The fact is that both ends of the political spectrum have been responsible for preserving Israel’s legal and social codes on anti-miscegenation. It was a foundational doctrine of the public secular religion of the Zionists that Jews cannot co-exist with Gentiles; that Jews carry with them the seeds of antisemitism; that Jews can only lead a normal and sane existence in a separate State of their own; and that antisemitism should be harnessed as the engine of Zionism.

    There is nothing in the Nürnberg “Law on Citizenship and Race” which does not have an exact parallel in the modern-day laws of Israel regarding the “permanent residents” of Jerusalem or the Arab citizens of Palestine who were displaced by threat or use of force in 1948 – and there was nothing in the contents of “The Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor” that wasn’t in-line with Zionist philosophy regarding the separate existence of the “Jewish Nation” or the State Israel’s modern-day Family Law, Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, and National Labor Laws.

  • kellyP January 31, 2011, 2:25 PM

    Once again you are ignoring differences. The Germans made laws that eliminated Jews from all aspects of commerce and life. The Jews of Germany also never declared their hatred for the country they lived and were born in.

    In Israel there has been calls for eliminating arabs from commerce and life by a minority group of extremists Jews. The government has not passed any laws and the leader of the government has declared that no law will ever be passed and the courts of Israel would never find such laws acceptable.

    • Richard Silverstein January 31, 2011, 6:25 PM

      No Palestinian Israeli has ever expressed hatred for the country where they live. Criticism is not hatred. Prove it. The next time you state a lie even in ignorance, you may lose yr comment privileges.

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