Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Israel is controlled by religious fanaticism

by Shulamit Aloni for Ha'aretz

Not very long ago, during Rabbi Meir Kahane's racist rantings, the late writer and journalist Amos Elon gave me a copy of a letter Lord Rothschild sent to Herzl in August 1902. In the letter, Rothschild explains why he refuses to support the establishment of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel. He writes that he "should view with horror the establishment of a Jewish colony pure and simple; such a colony would be Imperium Imperio; it would be a Ghetto with the prejudice of the Ghetto; it would be a small petty Jewish state, orthodox and illiberal, excluding the Gentile and the Christian."

Nevertheless, and despite phenomena like Kahane, the hope prevailed here over the years that Rothschild's harsh vision would prove false; that Israel would indeed "ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex," and "guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture," as stated in the Declaration of the Establishment of the State.

Time has passed and many heirs to Kahane have arisen - not only among a greedy and savage multitude but also among "the public's chosen representatives" in the Knesset and government. The latter are busy preparing blatantly racist laws and sending armed police to thwart Palestinian-initiated international cultural events because the regime believes the Arabs of the Land of Israel, the native Palestinians, are not worthy of being called human beings. According to the writers of these laws, the Arabs are certainly not entitled to human rights, not to mention a cultural and intellectual life, and never mind property, land and a home, because thousands of years ago God promised this land to Abraham and his seed.

Most regrettably and disgracefully, everything that Lord Rothschild predicted is coming to pass in our time. In our blackest dreams and in the hardest times since the struggle to establish the state, we never imagined that those who call themselves disciples of Ze'ev Jabotinsky would impose terror and fear here using deranged racist legislation. We never imagined that they would use the destruction of the court system to try to prevent any possibility of achieving social justice and a humane attitude. This is something essential in every democratic society toward every man, woman and child, irrespective of origin, race, religion and sex.

For 42 years we have been occupying, oppressing and stealing lands that are not ours. To be free in our land do we need to become thieving Cossacks, uprooters of trees, burners of fields and harassers of women, the elderly and the very young? "We have this land, we have it," goes the song, but what should have been said is "We have the power, we have it, we have the money, we have it, and we are allowed, we are," to starve an entire population, imprison it and annihilate it using air strikes, cluster bombs and white phosphorous. Because we are the lords of the land and God has chosen us to rule. For the shame of it.

"A unique people," wrote David Ben-Gurion. Alas, for that uniqueness. Instead of a Jewish and democratic state they have delivered us a Jewish state controlled by religious fanaticism, one that maintains the purity of the race. They have delivered a democracy in the most primitive sense - not the preservation of democratic values but rule by the demos, the populace that is dictating the transformation of Israel into a totalitarian ethnocracy.

Hooray for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman - they are eradicating everything we built, everything we dreamed about and everything we fought for.

Shulamit Aloni