Opinion |

Israel's Roaring Silence in the Face of Racist, Fascist Misogyny

The state gives the stage to right-wing activists when Israeli Jews and Muslims marry, while only left-wingers and Arabs speak out

Ariana Melamed
Ariana Melamed
Likud lawmaker Oren Hazan at party convention in Tel Aviv, Israel, March 25, 2018
Likud lawmaker Oren Hazan at party convention in Tel Aviv, Israel, March 25, 2018Credit: \ Moti Milrod
Ariana Melamed
Ariana Melamed

He's not alone, and he's not in the minority. Likud MK Oren Hazan is a frighteningly accurate litmus test for the mood in Israeli-Jewish society. He unambiguously captures the racist-fascist-misogynistic sentiment: religious and nationalist arguments linked with a hatred of women – a hallmark of German and Italian fascism.

See, for instance, the "Ten Commandments for Choosing a Spouse” by the Third Reich's public health authorities. Read, for example, chapter 11 of "Mein Kampf," which says: "The black-haired Jewish youth lies in wait for hours on end, satanically glaring at and spying on the unsuspicious girl whom he plans to seduce, adulterating her blood and removing her from the bosom of her own people."

>> 'She seduced a Jew': Lawmaker bemoans wedding of Fauda star to Israeli Arab TV anchor

Hazan hasn't been blessed with Adolf Hitler's colorful writing style, but the sentiment he expressed about Lucy Aharish, an Israeli Arab news anchor who on Wednesday married Jewish actor Tzachi Halevy, is identical: The Arab Aharish "seduced" the unsuspicious Jew. A real Lilith.

In racist ideology, the scary "other" is always the one who initiates, who generates the horror and violates the pure. The purpose of her "seduction" is to take advantage of her non-Jewish womb, as Hazan says: "Preventing more Jewish progeny from continuing the Jewish dynasty." No less important is the motive: "With the goal of harming our country," as Hazan tweeted.

The social-media uproar that Hazan's post caused juxtaposed two opposite worldviews. In one, relationships and marriage are an individual choice, and the state's only job is to stay out. In the other, relationships are a demographic threat to the state, rendering its elected officials obligated to interfere to channel every relationship toward a clear, premeditated agenda.

Israel, which puts marriage and divorce in the hands of religious institutions, already has trouble staying the course as it crisscrosses these different positions. It doesn't let people of different religions marry in its territory, though it recognizes such marriages if performed abroad.

The state is officially silent, of course, when it comes to the intermarriage of Jews and Muslims or Arabs generally, but it gives the stage to right-wing activists such as Lehava and the group's founder Bentzi Gopstein, who have repeatedly attacked Aharish. The only elected officials to condemn Gopstein have been left-wing and Arab MKs.

Behind the 65 legislators in Israel's governing coalition – the official face of Israel, the face that said not a word of condemnation against Hazan's racist post – stands a large constituency, a sturdy Jewish majority. If coalition members thought otherwise, if they thought Hazan didn't represent the values and beliefs of this community, they'd bother to tweet. But as long as they're silent, everyone is party to his post.

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