Whenever there is a terror attack in Israel it brings out the worst, most atavistic reactions. It’s much like the U.S. after 9/11, with the difference being Israel has no robust democratic traditions or constitution, so there are very few protections of free speech or minority views. It allows the worst, most horrific words and deeds to creep into the mainstream.
Here I want to feature two different manifestations of Israeli racism regarding the Hebron kidnapping and its aftermath. As I wrote here, the Israeli media went on the warpath after MK Haneen Zoabi when she expressed understanding of the motivations of the kidnappers (while rejecting the crime itself as justifiable). The follow-up to this nasty episode is this eye-opening interview (English translation) with Channel 2’s Rina Matzliach on the Meet the Press program. Matzliach, who herself is Mizrahi, holds political opinions best described as center-right. Though she expresses nasty, racist, anti-democratic sentiments during the interview, they are sentiments widely held by Israeli Jews. These sentiments, when I read them, made me realize even more than ever, that Israel as presently constituted is a lost cause.
While America in the 1960s was also a society steeped in racism and violence, I always maintained hope for change and that change did come gradually. I can’t feel that way about Israel, especially after watching Matzliach’s performance: she lies, she insults, she interrupts, she baits, she smears. And she does this with no hint of subtlety or nuance. It is a full-frontal attack on one of Israel’s leading Palestinian leaders. This shows that for Israeli Jews it is open season on the Palestinian minority. There is no such thing as national solidarity. No such thing as an Israeli national identity. There are Jews and all the rest.
So unlike the U.S., Israel cannot reform itself. There isn’t enough of a solid center or middle ground. There is the Right and the far Right. The center and the left are hopelessly ineffectual. If left to itself, Israel will lose.
I’ve held back on uploading this video trying to get it translated and then captioned. It is now translated, but the captioning is beyond my technical abilities. Perhaps there’s a Hebrew-speaker out there with the technical skills to caption this. That would allow readers to read the subtitles along with the “action” on screen as Matzliach and Zoabi engaged in their verbal sparring. As of now, you can read the transcript of the interview and judge for yourself the status of Israeli democracy.
An Israeli friend with politics somewhat more moderate mine (though still quite liberal), was annoyed, even angered by Zoabi’s performance here. My feeling was precisely the opposite. I was angered by Matzliach’s contemptuous approach to someone who is an elected member of the national legislature.
Israeli hip-hop star, Subliminal, is known for his homicidal rants against Israel’s enemies, specifically Arabs and Muslims. He’s a foul-mouthed version of the more presentable Israeli jingoist, Idan Raichel. In U.S. terms, you might compare him to Ted Nugent, the former rock star who’s now gone over to the dark-side of the Tea Party. I’ve written about Subliminal’s Jewish fascists tendencies here before. He’s on the warpath again with new diatribes against both MK Haneen Zoabi and the kidnappers of three Israeli teenagers.
Most of you join me in denouncing Israel’s invasion of the West Bank in retaliation for the kidnapping. Subliminal, on the contrary appears to favor turning the West Bank into a massive penal colony and burning Zoabi at the stake as a witch:
I can’t bear hearing this terrorist [Zoabi], Hamas’ official, paid representative in Israel’s Knesset. If only someone would finally put an end to her–racist, terrorist, certifiable liar, who distorts reality. Out of her own fiery heart she creates hate and removes any trace of a possibility for mutual respect, not even to say peace! Why Arabs from their side don’t finally shut her mouth, I cannot understand.
It’s a fact that in any other state her story would have ended, and ended badly [for her]. Sometimes this “enlightened” wannabe democracy of ours is like organizing a public rape to get ourselves fucked in the ass.
Cool, let’s pay her salary of 40,000 shekels ($12,000) a month. Makes perfect sense! Let’s give her a car, an office, so it should be quite comfortable for her, with bodyguards too. This is important. Let’s give her the possibility to broadcast her Hamas propaganda on every media channel. Because that’s quite important for democracy. It’s important to let her piss on our heads saying the kidnappers aren’t terrorists, but the IDF are. And most important is that “the only way to return the kidnapped children home is by freeing the Palestinian prisoners.”
I’ve had it! I’m not ashamed to say that I hope she’ll be run down [in an auto accident] and die, or slip in the bath and rip her head off, or eat a rotten egg and die of food poisoning, or anything the IDF can “arrange” for her, the quicker the better. Even worse than a plain murderer, she incites to murder, this demagogue who incites with Hamas propaganda for Israel’s destruction. We should burn her in effigy on Lag B’Omer [when massive bonfires are lit], the new Hitler. May her name be erased, slut! I feel like dropping her in Iraq or Syria. How her brothers there would honor her! Only fools like us can give this piece of shit a stage and power.
Hey, you can frame this any way you like. Apologists can argue Subliminal is a ranting fool. That he doesn’t represent anyone but his diehard fans. But the truth is that while his star has fallen somewhat in the Israeli cultural firmament over the past decade, he is still the voice of Israeli youth. He is the darkest part of their psyche. Not even the most remote or hidden part. Because what Subliminal will say on his Facebook page, hundreds of thousands of others believe as well.