Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not go to visit the Arab teen who was the victim of a shocking lynching by a group of Jewish teens in Jerusalem. He was afraid that such a humane gesture would not enhance his popularity among his chief supporters. We can assume that had the victim been a Jew, he would long since have visited him in the hospital and had his picture taken with him. But even without a visit, he has to draw conclusions from what happened, and take action.
He has to go to Jerusalem's Zion Square; go up onto that balcony he knows so well; bring party leaders, the chief rabbis and the head of Yad Vashem along with him; and declare that violent racism is dangerous terror. He has to declare that anyone harmed by this violence will be considered a victim of terror. Because the Jewish perpetrators of lynchings are exactly like Arab terrorists. The terrorists don't differentiate between one Jew and the next; they view them all as targets for attack. Thus anyone who harms an Arab solely because he is an Arab is a terrorist and a racist.
Why should Bibi do this? Because he's so preoccupied with Iran that he is neglecting the home front - not the ministry that Matan Vilnai just handed over to Avi Dichter, but Israeli society. It's in danger, and bomb shelters won't help: A cure for the illness is required.
It's necessary to take all those young people who are now being brought on heritage tours to Hebron and bring them to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum, so that they will understand the danger of racism, how it begins and how it ends. It's necessary to expand civics classes in the schools instead of firing those in charge of the subject.
Bibi sends emissaries to Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in order to obtain a majority for an attack against Iran. Wouldn't it be preferable to convince him, and other influential rabbis, to speak to their young disciples about the dangers of racism, and even to threaten a pulsa dinura, a religious curse, against anyone who participates in violence?
We are witnessing the bankruptcy of our society, the undermining of everything the country is supposed to symbolize. It's no longer just the marginal youth, or even the growing violence in nightclubs, where vodka is spilled like water, knives are pulled out in an instant and blood is spilled between Jews. Even the traditional hazing that is supposed to make a man of the new army recruit has exceeded the boundaries of high jinks and become violent.
But what we're talking about now are young people in whom hatred of Arabs has been inculcated from above. There are differences between religious and nonreligious Jews, but the hatred is the same. In hindsight, we can see the stages of this decline.
Here and there, at demonstrations, one encounters signs reading "death to the Arabs" or "price tag." And when the protesters are asked why they are demonstrating, you always hear the ostensibly banal excuse that it's because of the Arabs. One time it's because five Druze women were hired as proctors for the Meitzav nationwide school exam in Bat Yam; another it's because of a non-Jewish security guard posted in a parking lot. It's enough to see what goes on at Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium in order to understand what is happening to the Israeli public. The Bnei Sakhnin soccer team has become a parable.
One wise columnist wrote that had a Jew been lynched in Jerusalem, the country would have been up in arms. So what else is new. And then he added: "It's happening not only in Jerusalem, but in Stockholm and Oslo too." Very reassuring. In France they eat horse meat; that doesn't mean we'll eat that "delicacy," too.
The National Geographic channel is currently airing episodes of a documentary about the early days of Hitler's rise and how he paved his way to power by singling out the Jews as a target. At the time, Germany was suffering from a serious economic crisis and inflation. The chilling footage shows how hatred was directed against the Jews with violence that is almost unfathomable.
Many of us remember the rain of curses endured by Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz when he spoke about "Judeo-Nazis." But when you see or read about violence of the kind that took place in Jerusalem, you begin to suspect that the professor who was hated by so many may, God forbid, have been right. It's true that what is happening contradicts our worldview and our essence as Jews. But expressions of racism of the kind that we saw in Jerusalem are liable to spin out of control.
If I once thought the subject had already been exhausted and there was no need to write about it again, I've changed my mind. Anyone who can write, speak or influence must raise an outcry in order to stop this madness in our country.
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