The manifestations of formal racism in Israel have become reminiscent of the black days of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, when the authorities decided that only a Catholic could be a Spaniard.
The descendants of the Jews expelled from Spain later reestablished an independent state in which the rabbis have become the inquisitors with regard to anything involving those who do not have a Jewish mother, as well as conversion. Now those zealots who insist on racial purity have issued a call to expel from the "Jewish democratic" state (is it indeed democratic?) children who were born here and have assimilated into Israeli society. This racist campaign is being led by the Shas party, headed by Interior Minister Eli Yishai.
Since these self-righteous people, along with their rabbi, are familiar with the wisdom of Israel over the generations, there is no choice but to assume that they have chosen to ignore what is inconvenient for them. For example, that it's stated in the Tractate Kiddushin that those who have become assimilated are assimilated, and one does not make inquiries about them.
There is no doubt immigrants from the former Soviet Union who were born to a non-Jewish mother assimilate here - they speak Hebrew, receive an Israeli education, serve in the Israel Defense Forces and so forth. There is no need to torture them with sadistic conversion processes so that they can get the rights they deserve - from a country that invited them to come here and has the pretensions of being democratic.
If this is true for the Russian immigrants, shouldn't it be true to an even greater extent for the children of foreign workers who were born here, grew up here, for whom this is their country and Hebrew is their language, and who have no connection to any other country. To expel them is disgraceful - it is this disgrace that we must expel.
In the face of these demands, those who observe what happens within the ultra-Orthodox parties - the money they receive, the release of yeshiva students from the obligation to work and serve in the army - cannot fail to recall the line from Deuteronomy: "But Yeshurun grew fat and kicked."
Our present prime minister has granted them a great deal of fat; apparently his Judaism has made him crazy. It is not sufficient for him to be Israeli - even though in all the prayers one finds expressions only about the people of Israel, the God of Israel, the Torah of Israel, while the word "Jew" is never mentioned. The simple reason for this is that "Jews" are a religious ethnic group born in the Diaspora, and whose place is in the Diaspora, while we are a sovereign country where a Hebrew community existed and where today citizens of the State of Israel reside. However, during our time, the students of Jabotinsky have decided that Israel is not a democracy but in fact an ethnocracy. We have become a state subject to the authority of religious priests who despise progress, science and civil rights, and oppose granting full equality to women citizens.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has fallen in love with the Judaism of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and other holy men around him, and despises the principles embodied in the founding document of the state - the "declaration of independence" that ensures the country will be developed "for the benefit of all its residents," that there will be "complete equality of rights for all citizens regardless of origin, race, religion or gender," as well as "freedom of religion and conscience." It seems our premier is convinced that democracy means elections when they need to be held and the existence of competing parties. As everyone knows, this is what they have in Iran, too.
Nevertheless, all hope is not yet lost that Netanyahu might have a sudden revelation, that he will remember the history of the people of Israel and understand that expelling workers and their children will be a stain that cannot be washed out.
If there is anyone who feels I've been too harsh in my criticism of the system - which is supposed to "keep the nation clean" according to the Orthodox version - let him examine the draft laws that have been brought before this Knesset since its election: to oblige every member of the government to swear allegiance "to the State of Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state, to its symbols and values"; to swear allegiance to the state "as a Jewish and Zionist state, and to its flag and national anthem" as a condition for receiving an ID card, even in reference to children; and to ban mentioning the Arabs' disaster and the destruction of their villages during the War of Independence. All of these policies are aimed at getting non-Jewish citizens to leave the country.
If one of the democratic countries in which Jews live were to adopt ethnocentric laws like these while enforcing a religious and nationalistic outlook, along with Christian values and symbols - as is being done here with Judaism and Jewish symbols - then all those who earn a living from accusing Gentiles of anti-Semitism would be having a ball. However, in all other democratic countries Jews are citizens with equal rights, without having to take vows or declare loyalty. They also have the right to decide what kind of Jews they want to be and how they want to get married. But here we live under religious coercion, there is no civil marriage, and the law forces us to be subject to the Orthodox rabbinate while other streams of Judaism are treated with contempt. Now they wish to tie us to "the values and symbols" of the Judaism that emanates from the study halls of Shas and the ultra-Orthodox.
It's strange that the prime minister has yet to promise to provide a living next year for 80,000 parasites called yeshiva students, instead of the 50,000 we have this year. Everyone is aware that no "mountain movers" will emerge from among them, but rather kashrut observers and rioters against the general public which works and fights, builds and creates culture. We will enjoy a great many of these members of society, according to the "values and symbols" of the Judaism zealously protecting the purity of the Jewish race.