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!
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.