The Coastal Post - August, 1998

Orthodox Takeover In Israel: Cruisin' for A Bruisin'

BY KAREN NAKAMURA

Anyone who reads this newspaper with any regularity knows that a heated debate is going on between its covers. There are those who insist the Israeli government be given more respect and those who think it's out of control.

This criticism is especially focused on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who seems intent on destroying the peace process and expanding Israel's borders despite the suffering this would cause others who also have rights.

Sadly, its' becoming increasingly difficult for the world to sympathize with the descendants of the tragic victims of the Holocaust when those descendants are committing the same genocide on Palestinians and silencing their opposition. "Never again" becomes a hollow cry in the face of current reality.

What must be said here is that very few Americans are against the Jewish people themselves. It should also be understood that criticizing the policies of any government doesn't mean being against the entire nation.

Today, we have a classic ploy by the right-wing faction. Criticize us and you're anti-Semitic. Nonsense. Palestinians are Semites, too. Criticize us and you're against the nation of Israel. Double nonsense. People are against the destructive take-over of Israel by a fanatical sect.

If democracy allows us to criticize the American government ad nauseum, we sure as heck can criticize the present Israeli government. That's called freedom of speech.

Nazis, Communists and all dictatorships have used this ploy as a way to keep control. Good Germans let things slide, unable to believe their leaders would do anything as heinous as committing genocide. Aren't present-day Jews the world over engaging in the same behavior? Hiding their heads in the sand and hoping it'll all go away? Even though the deadly vehicle of conversion is rapidly bearing down upon them?

Let's review the antagonistic policies of the right-wing. Netanyahu has been shown to have psyched up the assassin of Yitzhak Rubin. He has clearly done everything in his power to destroy the peace process. The right-wing has allowed the Rabbinate to destroy the unit of the world-wide Jewish community by trying to create an Orthodox-only Jewery. They've caused untold misery to millions of people. They've been shown to be slowly but surely committing "ethnic cleansing" against the Palestinian people. They are now applying that same purification against Reform and Conservative Jews.

Not all Jews are keeping silent. They're just keeping their criticism "in the family." Just as Good Germans did. This is exactly what the forces of suppression want. That way they can identify the rebellious faction and eliminate its power base.

This tactic is clearly seen in the conversion issue. How many secular, Reform and Conservative Jews can practice their beliefs in Israel? Many Israelis have never met a Reform Jew.

Take the incident at the Wailing Wall last year in late May when Conservative men and women were beaten for praying together? This year, according to the prestigious Jewish Bulletin newspaper, the prayer service was conducted in full by a mixed-gender group despite violent intimidation by hundreds of the fervently religious Haredim. This was only because the Israeli police protected the worshippers.

Conservative Rabbi Ehud Bandel praised the police for their efforts: "I am very pleased that this time the police did not give in to explicit threats by Orthodox chief rabbis who wanted to prevent us from praying."

This is democracy? This is what our taxes are paying to maintain? Didn't yah love Netanyahu threatening not to take our three billion a year if we make any demands like freedom of religion and stopping the oppression of the Palestinians?

Who does Netanyahu visit when he's in the United States? His old buddy Newt Gingrich, who in return helped Netanyahu rile up Palestinians one more time when he visited Israel in May by saying Jerusalem belongs only to Jews (that's Orthodox Jews). Of course, he didn't understand the impact of his words. Oh no, just like Reagan didn't understand visiting Nazi graves could be "misinterpreted."

Why do Netanyahu and Gingrich think they can continue heaping insult on injury and not have to pay a price? Could it be that they're cruisin' for a bruisin' or trying to stir up the hornet's nest so they can smash it? Or, in this case, the Palestinians? Maybe they've got stock in the military/industrial complex? Or are they simply the stupid, drunken yahoos they come off as? Gingrich and friends are, not coincidentally, conducting a similar campaign in Congress.

What's really happening is that one faction-a very dangerous faction-has taken control of the of the Bright Experiment, the lovely land of Israel. Anyone not fervently Orthodox is systematically being eliminated. Palestinians are experiencing genocide, be it slower, just as their counterparts, European Jews did in the 1940s. To deny that is to ignore current reality.

Many in the Labor Party know that and are speaking out. A recent meeting of the Knesset televised on C-SPAN showed Netanyahu soundly shouted down by Labor for his policies and his insistence on expanding the borders of Jerusalem. If anything will keep Palestinians alive, it's the refusal of the Labor Party to go along with the plan. Americans must also refuse and start giving support to the victims, be they Palestinians or Reformists. The trucks are coming for them both.

Then there's the issue of redeployment. Netanyahu says Israel won't withdraw because of security. It also claims security for not withdrawing from Lebanon.

Let's examine this attitude. You and I are neighbors. I claim 20 feet of your property to build a wall to keep you out. Are you going to consider this just? Doubtful. If I want to build a wall, I can do it on my own property. There is no rational basis for taking or retaining property belonging to another, whether an individual or a state.

Doesn't anyone in the Lukkud Party understand that the best security is a good neighbor policy? The worse is a policy of repression, oppression and confiscation.

Coastal Post Home Page