• Israel’s ultra-Orthodox are its latest neo-fascist thugs
    Gideon Levy | Apr. 24, 2021 | 11:41 PM - Haaretz.com

    The most frightening and depressing thing that happened in Jerusalem recently isn’t the pogroms against the Palestinians. These of course are endlessly frightening and depressing, but most frightening and depressing is something new about the identity of the assailants.

    We already had the Lehava phalanxes, the La Familia militias and the hilltop thugs, and now the ultra-Orthodox have joined in. There’s a new bully in the neighborhood and they’re scarier than all the rest.

    The rioters in shtreimels might sweep Israel to fascist places it hasn’t known before, thanks to their huge electoral potential. The ultra-Orthodox are the reserves of the neo-Nazi movement developing in Israel, and they promise a great future for MKs Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir.

    Without the ultra-Orthodox, those two are a mere curiosity. Thanks to the ultra-Orthodox, their party might become the Alternative for Germany or the Sweden Democrats of Israel, yet much more extreme than those two most far-right parties in Western Europe. The brownshirts could change their color to white. This is frightening because the ultra-Orthodox are many, and it’s depressing because there was once a different ultra-Orthodox majority that I once respected and knew, one fallen victim to persecution and ostracism.

    The original sin was the establishment of huge ultra-Orthodox settlements in the 1990s that became the largest settlements in the West Bank, much larger than their ideological predecessors. What began as a low-cost housing solution, free of political beliefs, became extreme nationalism. With terrifying speed, those who until a generation ago were considered non-Zionist or political doves with leaders like Rabbi Elazar Shach and Rabbi Ovadia Yosef became bearers of the flag of Israeli fascism.

    Where are the days when they burned trash bins only because of desecration of the Sabbath, and who would have thought we would miss those days? Where are the rabbis who said “there’s no obstacle to relinquishing parts of the Land of Israel” and “relinquishing [these lands] for peace is not relinquishing,” as Rabbi Shach said.

    The fear came true: The views of the ultra-Orthodox were decided by their place of residence. They proved that it’s impossible to live on stolen Palestinian land without hating its owners. They settled in the Palestinian West Bank and became wonderfully integrated into the apartheid landscape around them. They became haters of Arabs and supporters of the far right. The road from there to participation in pogroms was short.

    In last month’s election they expressed this clearly. The Religious Zionism alliance became the third largest party in their community. In Jerusalem it won 9 percent of the vote and in Betar Ilit 10 percent, six times more than Likud. In Bnei Brak and in Modi’in Ilit, the largest Jewish city in the territories, it’s the third largest party. With reserves like this, one day we’ll have a Kahanist as prime minister; half of Israel already considers Naftali Bennett a legitimate candidate and even longs for him.

    True, only a few hundred ultra-Orthodox took part in the pogroms, but the rabbis did nothing to stop them, maybe because they knew that the genie was out of the bottle. Now the numbers will grow. The young ultra-Orthodox might change the rules of the game.

    The pictures from the past few days in Jerusalem are terrifying. Leave aside “proper” media coverage, which tries to maintain “balance” when on one side is the occupation, which has no balance. Leave aside the shocking pronouncements by the public security minister and the police commanders who condemned only Palestinian violence. This violence is the most justified and restrained act of resistance against injustice and other violence, and it comes as a direct response to the police’s ongoing abuse of the Palestinians in Jerusalem and the pogroms against them by far-right extremists.

    Make no mistake: The mass attacks on Arabs in Jerusalem are the harbingers of Israeli neo-Nazism. Intimidating marches, beatings, arson, looting and calls for death are exactly what neo-Nazism looks like. God save us from its ultra-Orthodox emissaries who have joined the fray.

    #Jerusalem #pogroms

    • The privatization of violence: Right-wing Jerusalem thugs are an arm of the state
      Don’t look at the rioters in Jerusalem as some eccentric Haredi nationalists, a mob unrelated to us, the civilized Israelis
      Amira Hass | Apr. 26, 2021- Haaretz.com

      “When you hear the cries ‘May your village burn down,’ does that represent you?” Suleiman Masswadeh, a reporter for the Kan Public Broadcasting Corporation, asked a young woman who participated in the rioting by Lehava – a hard-right, anti-Arab organization – in downtown Jerusalem on Thursday. Sporting a “Kahane was right” sticker on her chest, she replied: “Not in that way. I don’t say that it should burn down, but that you should leave the village and we’ll go live in it.”

      Now that’s an answer that sums up our history in a nutshell: It’s not necessary to burn things down, it’s enough merely to expel the Palestinians and then inhabit their homes.

      The Lehava people are not alone in this battle. Almost at the outset of the holy month of Ramadan on April 12, the Israel Police created a provocation when they blocked the Damascus Gate plaza as a sitting and gathering place for Jerusalem’s young men, with the pathetic excuse of easing access for the masses of worshippers. And yet such a step wasn’t taken prior to the coronavirus period, when the number of worshippers was far greater.

      So why now? Whether the provocation was the result of foolishness, or a deliberate attempt to destroy the atmosphere of togetherness typical of these days of Ramadan – it should be viewed in a more general context, as Yudith Oppenheimer and Aviv Tatarsky of Ir Amim, an NGO that focuses on Israel’s policies in Jerusalem, write on the website Siha Mekomit (Local Call, the Hebrew version of the +972 website): "Those who are following what’s been happening in Jerusalem in the past two years will detect a direct line linking incessant police harassment in [the East Jerusalem neighborhood of] Isawiyah and the events of recent days at the Damascus Gate.

      "What the two have in common is the targeting of an area in which there is active Palestinian life, entering it with large police forces and unrelenting attempts to cause friction during a period whose end is not in sight.”

      “Why did the Israel Police declare a curfew here of all places,” ask Oppenheimer and Tatarsky, and reply: “The implied message is: You want a holiday? Fine, observe it in your own home, behind walls and doors. The holiday lights are on display above Damascus Gate as they are every year, but the city square is empty, battered and bleeding, and the municipality that put up the lights is keeping mum. The police are creating ‘evidence’ by means of ongoing friction with the Palestinian residents. In the end, if not by force then by even more force, the disturbing pictures surface, which in turn justify the additional use of force and the further displacement of Palestinian residents from their public sphere.”

      Just as there is a connection between the police harassment in Isawiyah and at Damascus Gate, there’s a connection between the right-wing spectacles of hatred and high-handedness in downtown Jerusalem and the Old City – and the attacks by the settlers throughout the West Bank (another one was reported at the time this article was being written on Saturday: Israelis leaving the outpost of Havat Ma’on attacked farmers from the village of Al-Tawani who were working their land. According to initial reports, two Palestinians and two activists from the Israeli-Palestinian anti-occupation group Ta’ayush, who escorted them, were wounded.

      Lehava and the impassioned young people who answer its call are among the privatized branches of the government, the Jerusalem Municipality and the police, who implement their policy of making Palestinians disappear from the public sphere – just as the hilltop hooligans are another privatized arm for implementing the government policy of cramming Palestinians into densely populated enclaves and taking over most of the area of the West Bank.

      Land-grabbing right-wing NGOs with a religious and messianic patina, such as Regavim, Amana, Elad, Ateret Cohanim and Ad Kan, are other nongovernment branches, which, with their impressive financial resources, constitute a tailwind for the state’s institutions and their consistent Zionist policy. Their mother ship is the Gush Emunim movement and its incarnation as the Yesha (Judea and Samaria) Regional Council.

      Individual, unbridled and messianic violence – which for decades has been met by one blind eye and one winking eye of the law enforcement authorities – is a vital component of the belligerence of the most Jewish country in the world. In its democratic way (namely, with the support of most of its Jews), this Jewish state is working on the erasure of the Palestinian past, present and future in this land.

      The appetite of those rioters, the ultranationalist right-wing posses in Jerusalem and the South Hebron Hills, increases with every judicial decision that permits the takeover by a right-wing NGO of a Palestinian neighborhood such as Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan, with every uninvestigated attack against a Palestinian farmer on his own land by Israelis who emerge from Havat Ma’on or Yitzhar, with every license allowing the Civil Administration to declare Palestinian land as state land, and to allocate it to a settlement or adjacent outpost.

      “Disappearing” the Palestinians from the public sphere and crowding them into enclaves may turn out to be a preface to another mass expulsion of Palestinians from the country. That crime against humanity was in the past advocated by a religious Jew like Meir Kahane and a secular Jew like Rehavam Ze’evi, and is now being repeated by their successors, the Hardalim (Haredi nationalists) Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, in various guises.

      Don’t look at the rioters in Jerusalem as just some eccentric Hardalim and Haredim, a rabble that is unrelated to us, the civilized Israelis who, with good taste and good manners, ostensibly uphold the rule of law. The rioters are becoming stronger and multiplying, because Israelis who consider themselves “decent” centrists (and support parties including Labor, Kahol Lavan and Yesh Atid) have lived and are living in peace with these despicable acts of Israel’s governments and their privatized and reinforced satellites.

      Perhaps if this country’s friends – Europe and the United States – warn Israel about its policies and impose sanctions against it – the Israeli “center” will wake up and stop being silent, indifferent, remaining on the sidelines or actively supporting that policy.

    • Point de presse du 26 avril 2021 - France-Diplomatie-Ministère des Affaires étrangères

      3. Israël/Territoires palestiniens - Dégradation de la situation sécuritaire (26 avril 2021)

      La France est vivement préoccupée par les tensions et les violences des derniers jours à Jérusalem, notamment autour de la vielle ville, ainsi qu’en Cisjordanie. Elle condamne fermement les tirs de roquette depuis la bande de Gaza qui ont visé des zones habitées du territoire israélien en violation du droit international. La France rappelle dans ce contexte son attachement indéfectible à la sécurité d’Israël.

      La France appelle l’ensemble des acteurs à la retenue, à mettre un terme à toutes les violences et à permettre un retour au calme dans l’ensemble des territoires palestiniens. Toutes les actions qui concourent à l’escalade doivent cesser.

      Les violences des derniers jours viennent souligner la nécessité de la relance d’un processus politique crédible, dans le cadre du droit international et sur la base de la solution des deux Etats. La France y est engagée aux côtés de ses partenaires allemand, égyptien et jordanien.