The Ultra-orthodox Zionist Occupation

Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat
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Israeli riot police tries to block a Jewish right-wing man in Lod, central Israel, May 2021.
Israeli riot police tries to block a Jewish right-wing man in Lod, central Israel, May 2021.Credit: AP Photo/Heidi Levine
Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat

In 1948 over 20,000 Arabs lived in Lod. In the middle of Operation Danny, in July of that year, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion was asked what should be done with the city’s Arabs. He waved his hand as if to say they should be driven out. That gesture led to the expulsion of all but about 1,000 of Lod’s Arabs. Today, there are those who say that the city’s Arab population, which has returned to its pre-1948 dimensions, must be cleansed.

It’s convenient to point to one link in the chain of events and to decide, usually for ideological reasons, that it is the problem. That is a mistake, or to be more precise, it’s misleading. You must always seek the roots; the government still treats the Arabs as a nuisance, and so their sense of persecution – the feeling that everything is temporary, and will come tumbling down in an instant – is only intensifying.

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Meanwhile, Israel is being resolutely conquered by the so-called Hardal (Haredi Zionist) stream of Judaism. The greed for Arab land is alive and kicking. It is folded into attacks on democratic freedoms, the education system, planning and zoning agencies, the courts and the country’s resources. They are not a majority, but good organization can defeat any majority.

When the state, including its judges and officials, decides to remove the Arab residents of the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran and replace them with Jews, it is one of the dramatic results of the Hardal conquest. And when the courts, which are supposed to be the last refuge of the disadvantaged, decide that Jews may claim rights to demand rights over pre-1948 assets, whereas Arabs may not, the heads of the garinim torani’im – groups of religious Zionists that establish communities in underdeveloped neighborhoods, some of them in mixed cities – can roar: The judicial establishment is in our hands.

The judicial system surrendered long ago to the Haredi side of the settler movement. The proof is abundant, from Khan al-Ahmar in the West Bank to Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem.

The religious Zionist conquest of the media does not bode well. Hardali mouthpieces serve as reporters and commentators and even star on talk shows, with a religious Zionist flavor, of course. This act of deception is spreading everywhere. Here is Zvi Hauser, a former MK, wondering whether the Arab who lives in Nof Hagalil (formerly Upper Nazareth) is also a “settler,” as members of the garinim torani’im in the mixed cities are termed.

The response: Arabs move to the town for a housing solution, and that’s legitimate, while the Hardal groups go there as part of “a mission.” When something simple, like a place to live, becomes a national mission and a battle over redeeming the land – from the hands of Arabs, of course – here’s the root of the problem. The time has come to put the ideology of “Judaization” and the early Zionist slogan of “a dunam here, a dunam there” into storage.

To give an example, here is a decisive statement about Lod in an article by Chen Shalita on the Shomrim website: “For years the state has been ignoring the crime, the poverty and the neglect in those areas,” explains Yael Shmaryahu-Yeshurun. “And when a power group like the garinim identifies this vacuum and its potential, it tells the state, ‘I’ll take this upon myself, I’ll release you from this burden.’ The state for its part says to her, ‘Gladly. Come and do whatever you want with it. Take it for free, for seven shekels per dunam,’ as happened in Lod.” Both redemption of the land and a dreamy real estate transaction.

In that same Shomrim article, Liat Schlesinger, the executive director of the progressive think tank Molad, says: “The general public demonstrated indifference to the settlers during the disengagement (from the Gaza Strip in 2005) and the idea is, as far as you’re concerned, that the next time there’s such a threat, the public will no longer remain apathetic. Because he will see the ‘beautiful’ Israeli as a religious and kippa-wearing Israeli.” Well, that’s what awaits us. The doomsday prophecy of philosopher Yeshayahu Leibowitz about the evil caused by the domination of another nation is gradually coming true.

The message is clear. And don’t say you didn’t know: Any peace agreement with the Palestinians would cause the collapse of the social order within. The Wild West in the occupied territories would come back into Israel full force, to Arabs and Jews.

We will note here that the far-right racist group La Familia, before visiting Acre, Haifa, Lod and Jaffa, also dropped by for a visit with the Balfour Street anti-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demonstrators.

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