Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
The Angel Face of Ayelet Shaked:
An Ugly Israeli Racist Vampire
By Uri Avnery
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, December 23, 2013
SEEING HER face on the TV screen, one is struck by her beauty. It
is the face of an angel, pure and innocent.
Then she opens her
mouth, and what pours out is vile and ugly, the racist message of the
extreme right. Like seeing a cherub parting its lips and revealing the teeth
of a vampire.
Ayelet Shaked may be
the beauty queen of the present Knesset. Her name is enticing: Ayelet means
gazelle, Shaked means almond. But she is the instigator of some of the most
outrageous right-wing initiatives in this Knesset. She is also the
chairwoman of Naftali Bennett's Jewish Home faction, the
nationalist-religious party of the settlers, the most radical rightist party
of the current government coalition.
Her latest exploit is a bill
which is now being debated in the Knesset, which would levy a huge tax on
donations given by foreign “political entities” to Israeli human rights
associations, those who advocate a boycott of Israel (or of the settlements
only), the indictment of Israeli officers accused of war crimes in
international courts, and more.
All this while immense sums of
money are flowing from abroad to the settlements and their supporters. A
large share of these sums is practically donated by the US government, which
allows their exemption from US income tax as philanthropic. Much of it comes
from American Jewish billionaires of dubious repute.
IN A way, this
Gazelle is the face of an international phenomenon. All over Europe, extreme
fascistic parties are flourishing. Small despised fringe groups suddenly
expand into large parties with a national impact. From Holland to Greece,
from France to Russia, these parties propagate a mixture of
super-nationalism, racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and
immigrant-hatred. A deadly witches’ brew.
The explanation seems to
be simple. All over the place, the economic crisis has hit the people hard.
Unemployment is high. Young people cannot find jobs. The victims look for a
scapegoat on which to vent their anger. They choose the foreigner, the
minority, the helpless. That has been so since antiquity. That’s how a
failed painter named Adolf Hitler became a historic figure.
politicians without vision or values, this is the easiest way to success and
prominence. It is also the most despicable.
An Austrian socialist
said more than a century ago: “Anti-Semitism is the socialism of the fools”.
Social reformers may believe that the whole thing is instigated by
the world’s billionaires, who are concentrating an ever larger part of the
world’s assets in their hands. The gap between the upper 1% and everybody
else is growing relentlessly, and the beneficiaries are financing radical
right-wingers to divert the anger of the masses in other directions. Stands
HOWEVER, TO my mind the economic explanation is too
simple. If the same phenomenon appears at the same time in so many different
countries, with different economic situations, there must be more profound
reasons. There must be some elements of Zeitgeist in it.
that we are witnessing a basic cultural breakdown, a crisis of accepted
values. This kind of upheaval generally accompanies social changes, often
caused by economic and technological breakthroughs. It is a sign of social
dissonance, of disorientation. On the eve of the Nazi revolt, the German
writer Hans Fallada wrote an immensely successful book called “Kleiner Mann
was nun?” (Little Man, What Now?), expressing the despair of the newly
disinherited masses. Many little men and women around the world are in the
same situation now.
In Israel, too.
LAST WEEK, we saw a
spectacle that would have shaken our grandparents to the core.
300 black people, many of them barefoot in the biting cold of an
exceptionally severe winter, were walking dozens of kilometers on a central
road. They were refugees who had managed to flee from Sudan and Eritrea, to
walk all the way through Egypt and the Sinai and had crossed the border into
Israel. (Since then, a wall has been erected along the Sinai border, and
this stream has practically stopped.)
There are now about 60,000
such African refugees in Israel. Thousands of them are crowded in the most
run-down slums of Tel Aviv and other cities, causing deep resentment among
the locals. This has proved a fertile breeding ground for racism. The most
successful agitator is another beautiful member of the Knesset, the Likud’s
Miri Regev, a former army chief spokeswoman, who is inciting the inhabitants
and the country in the most primitive and vulgar manner.
for a solution to the problem, the government built a large prison in the
middle of the desolate Negev desert, unbearably hot in summer and unbearably
cold in winter. Thousands of black refugees have been crowded there without
trial for three years. Some called it a concentration camp.
human rights associations – the same as above - applied to the Supreme
Court, and the imprisonment of the refugees was declared unconstitutional.
The government thought again (if thinking is the right word) and decided to
circumvent the decision. Not far from the forbidden prison a new prison was
built, and the refugees were put there for one year each.
No, not a
prison. Something called “Open Live-in Facility”. We are good at
naming things. We call that “verbal laundry”.
This “open” desert
prison is closed during the night, but inmates are free during the day.
However, it is far from anywhere. The inmates must register three times
during daytime – thus making it impossible to go anywhere, not to mention
It is from this “open” prison that the valiant 300
have walked out and marched all the way to Jerusalem, some 150 kilometers,
in order to demonstrate in front of the Knesset. It took them three days.
They were accompanied by a few Israeli human rights activists, mostly
female, their light faces very conspicuous among all the black heads.
In front of the Knesset they were brutally attacked by specially trained
riot police. Each demonstrator was surrounded by half a dozen bullies and
violently thrown into a bus, which brought them to the old non-open prison.
I AM dwelling on this incident because I am profoundly ashamed.
Racism is not a new thing in Israel. Far from it. But whenever we accuse
our gazelles of racism, they answer that this is pure libel. There is a
conflict between us and the Palestinians, strict security measures are
called for, this has nothing to do with racism, God forbid.
a very dubious argument, but at least it has some plausibility.
we have no national conflict with the refugees. No security considerations
It is racism, pure and simple.
that suddenly, in a remote corner between Eritrea and the Sudan, a Jewish
tribe had been discovered. Its 60,000 members want to come to Israel.
The country would be in a delirium. The red carpet would be rolled out in
Ben-Gurion airport. Both the President and the Prime Minister would be
there, ready with their most banal speeches. They would receive an
“absorption subsidy”, free housing and work.
So it’s not an
economic problem, nor a question of absorption, housing or employment. It’s
not even a question of skin color. Black Jews from Ethiopia are readily
It’s simply THAT THEY ARE NOT JEWISH.
here for other people. They would take away our jobs. They would change the
demographic balance. This, after all, is a Jewish State!
If this were a Jewish State, would it treat refugees this way?
A hundred memories float into our minds. Of Jews being hounded from
country to country. Of the mighty United States of America rejecting Jewish
refugees on a German ship, fleeing from Nazi persecution. And later
exterminated in the death camps. Of the Swiss pushing back Jews escaping
from the concentration camps who had made it to their border.
Remember “The Boat Is Full?”
If this really were a Jewish state,
would it try to bribe African states to accept these refugees without asking
what would happen to them there? For a refugee from the hell of Darfur,
Zimbabwe is as foreign as New Zealand (unless one subscribes to the theory
that “all blacks are the same”.)
If this really were a Jewish
state, would the Minister of the Interior, a Likud functionary, send his
force of goons to go hunting for refugees in the streets?
is not a Jewish state. The Bible commands us to treat the stranger in our
midst as we would want to be treated ourselves. “Also, thou shalt not
oppress a stranger, for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were
strangers in the land of Egypt!” (Exodus 23:9)