The division in Israel is becoming more and more clear – the religious right against the secular left
Judaism VS Democracy. The lines become clearer every day.
On the National front, PM Benjamin Netanyahu's government has declared an all out war on left wing parties and organizations. The ruling right wing coalition, composed of all conservative and religious parties in Israel, has decided that Israeli occupation of the west bank is making Israel loop bad, and that the surest way of making Israel look better : is by declaring the topic taboo. To do this they have passed the following legislation:
- Israelis calling for a consumer ban on goods produced in the occupied territories, will be subject to prosecution, and a heavy fine.
- Organizations which call for a ban on goods produced in the occupied territories will be banned from receiving funds which originate in foreign states (like EU and UN donations).
- A ban on public organizations from receiving funds which originate in foreign states. The reason for this law being that most of the funding for leftist organizations comes from the EU, and UN, while right wing organizations get their funding from private donations – such as Evangelicals in the US. PM Netanyahu himself operates a right wing news paper, distributed daily and freely in Israel- which is funded by American Jewish billionaire- Sheldon Edelson.
After passing this law, (a process which happened shockingly fast), some parliament members realized they're actually drying up funding for non political social organizations as well. Today an amendment to the law is being formulated, stating that an organization which wants access to foreign state funding will undergo a hearing, which will determine whether it is "Leftist" or not…
- The coalition has declared that the judges sitting in the Israeli supreme court are too "Pro Palestinian" , and are today passing a bill to change the election process to the Israeli supreme court- in order to put their people in.
- A state board of inquiry has been publically created to "investigate" for hidden funding sources of Israeli leftist organizations.
- New regulations on the boundaries of free speech have been legislated, seriously limiting freedom of investigative journalism. The Israeli media is also blamed time and again for being controlled by the left.
- Some coalition parliament members have openly voiced that in their opinion, the Israeli left are traitors.
This Blitz of legislation has in effect "Made it OK" to hate the left. Prominent leftist activists have lately received numerous death threats, to which the police has demonstrated apathy. Right wing organizations, heavily funded by Evangelical Christians have launched public campaigns to "purge" Israeli universities of leftist professors, who in their view are "brainwashing" students.
It has become more and more common in right wing religious demonstrations to shout "Death to leftists."
So much for Nationalism – now here's the religious front:
About a year ago, 40 city and town rabbis (The Israeli ministry of religion assigns a head rabbi for each city and town – public servants receiving state salary) signed a petition calling for a ban of all sale or rent of houses and apartments to no jews. Their reason: the bible states that other religions may not reside within the holy land, and selling homes to non jews will give them a foothold here. They also noted that the rising of religion in Israel in past years serves them an indication that it is time to begin calling for religious legislation.
Other, more prominent rabbis have defied them- stating simply, that "it wasn't time yet…"
Several prominent rabbis have recently given their signature to a new book, called "The King's guide"- a summary of all Jewish religious laws concerning the appropriate conduct of war according to Jewish religious law. The book, written by zealous rabbi Issac Shapira, calls for the immediate establishment of jewish war laws, which permit genocide, rape, and execution of leftists. The book caused media uproar, and calls for putting rabbis to justice. The rabbis respond by refusing to go to police questioning- and that's where things stand.
Once again, other, more prominent rabbis have defied him- stating simply, that "it isn't time yet…"
For several years now, the biggest public bus company in Israel has been operating several of its routes are "Religious routes", In which women are forced to sit at the back of the bus, as to not touch men, and inadvertently cause sinful thoughts to appear in their minds. After several violent incidents involving women forcibly removed from busses by religious men, the courts ruled that the segregation is illegal – however, no enforcement has followed.
Just last week, Religious soldiers walked out in protest during an army concert – their qualm "female singers". Jewish law prohibits women from singing in front of a male audience. While many rabbis in the past have listened to female singing, the increasing tend towards extremism has caused a general backing of the soldiers by the religious establishment. Even the chief rabbi of the army, publically stated that when religious law conflicts with an army commanders orders- religion supersedes!
This separation of the sexes also exists in some of the ticket purchasing stations of the newly built Jerusalem tram. Ticket stations designated as "Men only" refuse selling tickets to women, and insist they go to women designated ticket stations.
Some busy streets in Jerusalem have also begun enforcing gender separation – women on the left, men on the right.
Not all of this religious extremism regarding segregation of the sexes is coming from men- the worst parts are actually coming from religious women. A movement called "Taliban Women" is spreading like wildfire across religious women in Israel. The movement, founded by a women currently in prison for child abuse, preaches women to cover themselves completely from head to toe – so that now female form is visible. The movement has received huge support from rabbis, and its propaganda uses the lowest form of scare tactics.
Religious extremism has left no stone unturned- even medicine. Last year, the construction of a much needed Emergency room was stopped due to the protest of religious groups, led by Health Minister Jacob Liztman. The reason – in the excavations for the foundations of the buildings, ancient human bones were found. This is a common occurrence in Israel, bones are found practically everywhere- and for the odd chance that those are "Jewish bones", religious groups go insane. The difference this time is the backing of a government minister- the health minister – who values religious law over human life. This same Minister, routinely calls up ER doctors and insists they treat patients according to jewish religious law, and not according to modern medicine. For instance, recently he insisted that doctors continue CPR on a dead woman, because jewish medical law (written in the middle ages) stated she was still alive.
And finally, the settlers- those religious zealots who cling to the sanctity of rocks and boulders in the west bank. The true leaders of national extremism in Israel- who have learned how to conceal their quest for a religious state with secular nationalist terminology- and have gained the support of many secular people.
A movement which has recently grown in power called "Price tag", has declared that for every illegal settler's jewish caravan removed by the army in the west bank, and for every piece of land given to Palestinians – they will collect a "price" – meaning, hurt jews and arabs. They have burned down dozes of Palestinian fields, cut down olive trees, burned Palestinian cars and mosques. They've extended their terrorist activities to Israeli arabs as well, and recently burned down a mosque in the Galilee. They've even tried to murder soldiers. A group of activists broke into an army base in the west bank, and cut the brakes on several army jeeps- this is attempted murder. Prominent Leftist activists have been getting multiple death threats sprayed on their doors – "We will murder you-Price tag."
In the years before the holocaust, European jews where deliberating amongst themselves, "Is it time to leave Germany? – will things get worse than they are now? How far will this go? My whole family is here, my job is here, friends, life. Am I just being paranoid?"
Few saw ahead of the curve, and left. Most stayed – and were murdered.
I find myself seeing this question as being very relevant again- in 2011 Israel. I see my country becoming a fascist theocracy before my eyes, and can't help but pay cautious attention to the voice inside saying "GET OUT NOW".
If you'd like to read more about increasing extremism in Israel, there's an excellent article in the following link: