Crossposted from Jewish Peace News
The chilling article below, from this weekend’s (February 6th, 2009) Haaretz, appears at first to be disturbing simply for what it says about a growing segment of Israel’s next generation of voters-an open, even proud, racism and an attraction to fascism, in the form of support for Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of the Israel Beitenu party, which is poised to become Israel’s third largest party in Tuesday’s election. The key selling point of the party in this election is a “loyalty oath” that would be a prerequisite for citizenship rights, clearly directed at Israel’s Palestinian Israeli citizens.
But the article illuminates (or darkens) far more. Such as the horrifying prospect of highschoolers campaigning for Lieberman by screaming “Death to the Arabs!” in the streets and consciously explaining that this helps them prepare to enter the army. As the article quotes:
“Sergei Leibliyanich, a senior, draws a connection between the preparation for military service in school and student support for the right: “It gives us motivation against the Arabs. You want to enlist in the army so you can stick it to them. The preparation gives you the motivation to stick it to the Arabs and we want to elect someone who’ll do that. I like Lieberman’s thinking about the Arabs. Bibi [Benjamin Netanyahu] doesn’t want to go as far.”
The further you read, the clearer it is that this a phenomena that draws strength from so many of the issues facing Israeli society: not just virulent Anti-Arab racism, but a reliance on violence, the emphasis on militaristic values, the broken education system, and the crumbling of democratic principles. But perhaps, at root, the problem, as the article indicates, is this:
“The Israeli reality can no longer hide what it has kept hidden up to now – that today no sentient mother can honestly say to her child: ‘Next year things will be better here.’ The young people are replacing hope for a better future with a myth of a heroic end. For a heroic end, Lieberman fits the bill…. In a reality in which you can’t honestly tell your children, ‘Tomorrow will be better,’ in which the realization has finally sunk in that no deal or accord is about to happen, not now or 10 years from now – they react in a hysterical, survivalist fashion. In such a situation, the commitment to humanist values can be viewed as a luxury that we as a society cannot afford.”
By Yotam Feldman
The Yisrael Beiteinu youths gather for a final consultation as dozens of elderly party supporters slowly make their way into the white tent where the movement’s conference is being held, behind the Plaza Hotel in Upper Nazareth.
The youths, ages 16-18, many of them good friends from school, had stood for a long time before the event began at the intersection near the hotel, waving Israeli flags and shouting “Death to the Arabs” and “No loyalty, no citizenship” at passing cars. Continue reading