Categorized | Middle East



Dear friends,


Three items below.


Item 1 is a translation of a letter that was sent to Israel’s Attorney General on December29, 2910.  It appeals to the Attorney General to ask the police to investigate those who published and signed the letter from the Rabbi’s wives.  The quotations of Nazi laws and writings were inserted already in English. 


The translation is followed by background about the letter from 3 sources—IMEMC, Arutz 7 (a far right-wing station), and the Guardian.  The Guardian report is especially useful, as it also relates the statistics on Israeli society’s reaction to the Rabbi’s letter forbidding renting and selling of Jewish property to  letter.  The stats show that racism in Israel is not limited to fundamentalist Jews.  It exists in a large part of society.


In item 2 Carlo Strenger analyzes the causes for Israeli racism, and concludes that international pressure is necessary and the lesser of 2 evils to bring an end to the Palestine-Israel conflict.


In item 3 Gideon Levy gives his take of the past year, which decidedly was not a good one.


I had hoped to send this message with information about today’s doings at Bil’in.  But apart from a notice this morning in Haaretz that the Army had cordoned off the village, declaring it a closed military zone, have seen nothing.  However, a friend who did go today reports that notwithstanding the IOF’s attempts to quash today’s events, 1000 attended, and that Luisa Morgantini was among them. 


All the best, and once again wishing us all a better year in 2011 than was in 2010.



December 29, 2010


To the Attorney General

The Honorable Yehuda Weinstein, Adv.


A request for an investigation of the Rabbis’ Wives Letter


Yesterday Israeli news programs broadcast the following letter by more than 20 Rabbis’ wives:


‘Dear Sister!


You are the daughter of a king, you belong to a chosen people, a holy and precious people, a people of God,  We see you in the supermarket standing at the cash register and dutifully serving the customers.  We see you performing National Service in the hospitals.  Your work is difficult, yet you give of yourself devotedly.  People often neglect to say a kind word to you, and your efforts often go unacknowledged.


In places that you work there are also Arab workers.  They go by Hebrew names— Yusuf becomes Yossi, Samir becomes Sami, and Abed becomes Ami.  They want to be near you.  They try to appeal to you and give you all the attention you desire.  They know how to behave politely, to compliment.  But this conduct is only temporary.  They pretend that they really care for you.  But the moment that you are in their hands in their village, everything changes.


You can ask tens of girls that have experienced this.  They will all tell you that it was all pretense.  The moment that you reach the village, your life will change totally.  And the attention that you wanted so much will become curses, beatings, and degradation.


Even should  you want to leave the village, it will be very difficult.  They will chase you and not let you go back to your former life.


Your grandmothers never dreamt that any of their offspring would lend a hand to keeping future generations from being Jewish.  For your sake and for the sake of coming generations, and to save you from terrible suffering, we appeal to you and plead with you to not date Goyim [non-Jews—a derogatory term, similar in kind to ‘Kike’ or ‘Nigger’ ].  Don’t date them, don’t work in stores with them, and don’t perform National Service with them.’


The contents of this letter raise suspicion of criminal offence.


Prohibiting Arabs from using Hebrew names,


The prohibiting citizens of Israel  of Arab descent from having Hebrew names, and insisting that they go by Arab names so as to identify their ethnicity is reminiscent of the racist Third Reich Laws which forbade Jews from using Aryan names, and forced male Jews to add ‘Israel’ to their names, and female Jews to add ‘Sarah.’


January  5, 1938: The Law on the Alteration of Family and Personal Names forbids Jews from changing their names.

August 17, 1938: The Executive Order on the Law on the Alteration of Family and Personal Names requires Jews bearing first names of “non-Jewish” origin to adopt an additional name: “Israel” for men and “Sara” for women.


The Jewish people as a superior and holy people


The sentence ‘you are the daughter of a king, you belong to a chosen people, the people of God’ raises Jews above all others, as being a superior people.  This attempt reminds us of other periods when a different people were called a superior race.


Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor of September 15, 1935

(Translated from Reichsgesetzblatt I, 1935, pp. 1146-7.)

Moved by the understanding that purity of German blood is the essential condition for the continued existence of the German people, and inspired by the inflexible determination to ensure the existence of the German nation for all time, the Reichstag has unanimously adopted the following law, which is promulgated herewith:

law, which is promulgated herewith:

Section 1

  1. Marriages between Jews and citizens (German: Staatsangehörige) of German or kindred blood are forbidden. Marriages concluded in defiance of this law are void, even if, for the purpose of evading this law, they were concluded abroad.

  2. Proceedings for annulment may be initiated only by the Public Prosecutor.

Section 2

Extramarital sexual intercourse between Jews and subjects of the state of Germany or related blood is forbidden.

Section 3

Jews will not be permitted to employ female citizens under the age of 45, of German or kindred blood, asdomestic workers.



Separation between Jews and Arabs in work places and National Service


The attempt to separate Jews and non-Jews, especially Arabs in places of work and National Service, and doing so on the pretence of ‘danger’ for Jewish women by the seductive acts of Arab males.  This approach is designed to remove Arab males from work places where separation is not feasible.  This, too, is reminiscent of an article in a Nazi German paper, Der Stürmer, that describes Jewish males as out to entice German girls and the explanation given by the German Chancellor in presenting the Nuremberg laws to the Reichstag.


…Bitter complaints have come in from countless places citing the provocative behavior of Jews….a certain amount of [conspiratorial] planning was involved….[To prevent] vigorous defensive action by the [Aryan] people,[25] we have no choice but to contain the problem through legislative measures….it may be possible, through a definitive secular solution, to create a basis on which the German people can have a tolerable relationship with the Jews.[26] … This law is an attempt to find a legislative solution….if this attempts fails, it will be necessary to transfer [the Jewish problem] … to the National Socialist Party for a final solution (German:endgültige Lösung).[27



In conclusion


According  to article 144 A of the  PENAL LAW 5737-1977 (as follows) “racism” – persecution, humiliation, degradation, a display of enmity, hostility or violence, or causing violence against a public or parts of the population, all because of their color, racial affiliation or national ethnic origin”.


According to article 144B.(a) ” If a person publishes anything in order to incite to racism, then he is liable to five years imprisonment”.


With reference to the above, please instruct the Israeli Police to investigate all involved in publishing and signing the above mentioned  letter whereas the text of the letter is clearly – in our humble opinion – a crime under articles 144A and 144B(a) of the law.



Prof. Uzzi Oman, Chairman and Co-founder of Ani-Israeli

Yossi Barnea, Secretary of Ani-Israeli 


[‘ani’=I, in other words the organization is ‘I am an Israeli’. Dorothy]





Prominent Rabbis’ Wives Tell Fellow Jewish Women Not To Date Arabs

Saed Bannoura


December 28, 2010



In a letter published Tuesday in the Israeli press, around two dozen wives of prominent Israeli rabbis followed a recent edict by their husbands for Jews to refuse to rent or sell property to Arabs with an edict of their own: that Jewish women refuse to date or associate with Arab men.


The letter includes gross generalizations about Arabs, specifically referencing Palestinians with Israeli citizenship: “There are quite a few Arab workers who use Hebrew names. Yusuf becomes Yossi, Samir becomes Sami and Abed becomes Ami. They seek your proximity, try to appeal to you and give you all the attention you could ask for, they actually know how to act polite, making you believe they really care – but that behavior is only temporary.”


It continues, “As soon as they have in you in their grasp, in their village, under their complete control – everything becomes different. Your life will never be the same, and the attention you sought will be replaced with curses, physical abuse and humiliation.”


The women give no evidence whatsoever for their claims, and Palestinians immediately condemned the letter for its use of “scare tactics, generalizations and outright racist statements”.


The letter also states, “Your grandmothers never dreamed that one of their descendents would, by one act, remove future generations from the Jewish people. For you, for future generations, and so that you will never have to endure the terrible suffering, we appeal to you, begging, pleading, praying: Don’t date them, don’t work where they work and don’t perform National Service with them.”


This follows on the heels of a religious edict issued by the womens’ husbands, who are all prominent rabbis in Israel, in which they claim that the Jewish holy book, the Torah, forbids the sale or rental of property to non-Jews (specifically referencing Palestinians).


The rabbis and their wives are mainly part of a group called ‘Lehava’, which encourages segregation and discrimination against non-Jews in Israel. The group can be traced back to the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, who headed an organization called ‘Kach’, which was classified by Israel as ‘terrorist’ for its attacks against civilians. One if the members of that group was Baruch Goldstein, a doctor from Brooklyn, New York, who came to Israel in 1994 to gun down 29 Palestinians praying in a mosque in Hebron.


Over the last several years, anti-Arab sentiments have been on the rise in Israel. A recent study by the Association for Arab Civil Rights in Israel showed that racism against Arabs has doubled in the past several years, and incidents of violence against Palestinians inside Israel are also on the rise.



Arutz 7 [a very right-wing station]


20 Rabbis’ Wives: Girls, Don’t Date Arabs

Tevet 23, 5771, 30 December 10 06:21by Gil Ronen( Twenty rebbetzins (wives of rabbis) sent a public letter to Jewish girls Tuesday imploring them not to engage in romantic connections with Arabs. The rebbetzins warned: “Once you are in their hands, in their village, under their control – everything becomes different. The attention you wanted for yourself will be replaced by curses, beatings and humiliations.”


The rebbetzins instructed girls not to go out with Arabs, not to work in places where Arabs are employed, and not to carry out volunteer national service in such places.


Rebbetzins traditionally hold leadership status alongside their husbands in the congregation and community, especially vis-a-vis women and girls.


The rebbetzins’ letter joins an earlier letter signed by over 300 rabbis, calling on Jews not to sell or rent out homes to Arabs, and citing intermarriage as one of the negative results of allowing Arabs to move into Jewish neighborhoods. In addition, demonstrations have been held in Bat Yam and the Hatikvah neighborhood in Tel Aviv, which included signs asking Jewish girls to beware of Arab suitors.



The Guardian Wednesday 29 December 2010 19.28 GMT 


Israel Rabbis’ wives urge Israeli women not to mix with Arabs

Letter signed by wives of 27 prominent rabbis draws furious reaction from politicians and religious leaders in Israel


  Ana Carbajosa in Jerusalem


A letter signed by the wives of 27 prominent Israeli rabbis urging Jewish women not to date or work with Arab men has drawn a furious reaction from politicians and religious leaders.


Israel’s defence minister, Ehud Barak, said the petition was “part of a wave of racism, which threatens to carry Israeli society away to dark and dangerous places”.


The letter follows the release of a document by dozens of rabbis this month which ruled that Israeli Jews should not let or sell their properties to Arabs. The ruling, signed by some of the most prominent religious leaders in the country, was condemned by the Israeli government, including the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu. However, a poll published this week revealed significant support for the rabbis’ position among the Israeli Jewish population.


The letter, by a group of influential wives from the Lehava organisation, states that Israeli Jewish girls should not mingle with gentiles. To that end, the “daughters of Israel” – as the letter refers to the young women – should also avoid places such as supermarkets and workplaces frequented by non-Jewish men.


“There are quite a few Arab workers who give themselves Hebrew names. Yusef turns into Yosef, Samir turns into Sami, and Awabad turns into Ami. They ask to be close to you, try to find favour with you, and give you all the attention in world … [but] the moment you are in their hands, in their village, under their control, everything changes,” the letter states, according to translations published in the Israeli press.


Lehava has launched initiatives in the past to fight against the “assimilation” of Jews. It organised a demonstration this month in which hundreds of supporters protested against the presence of Arab citizens in Bat Yam, south of Tel Aviv.


Rabbi Mauricio Balter, the president of the Rabbinical Assembly of Masroti, the Conservative Judaism movement in Israel, condemned the letter, saying it was “contrary to Judaism” and showed a “touch of racism and xenophobia”. He added: “Although in Judaism we promote marriage between Jews, we do not consider it a problem working with or having friends who are non-Jews.” The conservative movement is the second-largest in world Judaism but represents only a minority of Jews living in Israel.


A poll published this week showed 44% of Israeli Jews support the rabbis’ ruling this month banning the renting of apartments to non-Jews. The survey, by the Truman Institute of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, also revealed that 48% opposed such a ban.


Israel’s Arab minority makes up more than 20% of the country’s population.



December 31, 2010


Paranoid vicious circles

As Netanyahu continues to explain criticism against Israel’s settlement policy as a conspiracy to delegitimatize Israel, hatred turns on a real or imagined enemy – Israeli Arabs.


By Carlo Strenger


The rise of racism and xenophobia in Israel has been a favorite topic among pundits over the last few weeks, and for good reason, because the phenomenon is worrying. The causes have been well-analyzed: the fragmentation of Israeli society, the lack of a common culture and ethos, and of course Israel’s growing international isolation.


This is the type of situation in which right-wing movements flourish: They take the confusion engendered by complex factors, and they resolve the problem by creating a conspiracy theory that explains everything.


When faced with an intractable problem, right-wing politicians single out an easily identifiable group to be the scapegoat. This is the essence of what psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion called paranoid leadership.


This has been true for all societies, and we Jews should know this well. Anti-Semitism rose steeply in the 13th century because of the bubonic plague. At the time, people didn’t understand the real reason behind the deaths: a rise in urbanization. So they developed conspiracy theories, for example that Jews had poisoned water wells.


Similarly, in the 1920s Germans felt humiliated by the Versailles treaty, and their already weak economy could not withstand the onslaught of the Great Depression. As a result, the theory that a Jewish conspiracy had brought down Germany became ever more popular.


In Israel, there are currently two main variations on the theme of conspiracy. Netanyahu’s main story line is that Israel is being delegitimized and that its very existence is called into question. He keeps repeating that the global criticism of Israel has nothing to do with the settlements, nor with the stalled peace process. Since the world doesn’t accept Israel’s existence, it doesn’t matter what Israel does: it will be isolated and under criticism.


Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Interior Minister Eli Yishai are focusing on Arabs as a fifth column. Each in his own way keeps arguing that Israel is under threat from the inside and from the outside. Since the outside threat cannot be addressed directly, they focus on Israel’s Arabs, arguing that they are threatening Israel’s existence.


For our purposes it is irrelevant whether Netanyahu, Lieberman and Yishai believe their own stories, and what their precise interests are in propagating them. We are interested in the effect of right-wing tactics. The mechanism of explaining everything through conspiracy has one immediate psychological effect: It channels a vague anxiety into hatred focused on a real or imagined enemy.


It creates the temporary semblance of more unity through its mythology: “Our society is in danger, there is an external enemy, and we now need to stick together and fight that enemy.”


In the long run, this type of myth exacerbates the real problems: Netanyahu’s line that the Palestinians and Iranians are the obstacles to peace convinces very few outside Israel. It also doesn’t help that Netanyahu keeps a foreign minister whom most commentators and diplomats (of course never officially ) see as an Israeli Milosevic.


The result is that the international community no longer sees Israel as a partner for peace talks, whereas it does see the Palestinians as constructive; hence the notion that Israel needs to be pressured into a peace agreement is gathering momentum.


This, in turn, is used in Netanyahu’s story line that the world is delegitimizing Israel’s existence. Internally the situation is exacerbated as well. Israel’s Arabs feel more and more alienated by the hatred propagated by seculars like Lieberman and the anti-Arab rabbis.


This closes the vicious circle of paranoia: Anxiety is translated into hatred and suspicion, which disrupts communication with the outside world and internal groups designated as enemies. This leads to further isolation, which in turn raises anxiety even further.


The right of course has no incentive to stop this vicious circle. The higher the anxiety, the more votes it will reap.


Where this will vicious circle end? At this point it is very difficult to see what forces inside Israel could change the paranoid, isolationist state of mind. Politicians are pressured into conforming to right wing demands to fall in line in the face of impending doom, and are desperately afraid to be seen as traitors if they point out that there might be more cooperative modes of action.


Historically, escalation from the right leads to implosion before sanity is regained. This was true for Italy and Germany as it was for Serbia. In these cases, the wakeup call to sanity was triggered by a lost war. In the case of South Africa the international community generated ever higher pressure, until the regime understood that it was no longer tenable.


Not long ago it seemed that a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict imposed from the outside would be a catastrophe. Given the alternative, it is sadly ironic that international pressure toward change is now the lesser of two evils.



December 31, 2010



The year of truth

At midnight, when the French champagne is flowing like water, perhaps we will understand that next year will be the last year we can still save something, and be grateful the truth came out.



By Gideon Levy



This was (also ) a good year – the year of truth. The year that concludes tonight with a kiss was the year the Israeli masquerade party ended, the year the costumes were torn off and the truth came out. The true face was revealed. This was the year we finally came out of the closet – no more saccharine phrases and hollow talk about justice and equality, no more flowery and superficial words about peace and two states. This year the truth was heard in public, echoing loud and clear from one end of the country to the other, worrisome and depressing.


No one is talking anymore about peace; we even put the “peace process” in quotes this year, to make fun of it, as it deserves. All that’s left of peace this year is U.S. special envoy George Mitchell. And nothing remains of the prime minister’s two-state vision or the majority in the surveys: This year the Israeli government said no, even to a temporary freeze on settlement construction, and the Israelis said nothing.


After this year of truth, no one will be able to claim seriously that Israel seeks peace with the Palestinians, or with the Syrians, who spoke peace but were left unanswered. All the excuses have lost their value – Palestinian terror has halted and there is at least half a partner who is more moderate than any other. Still, we’re sticking to our positions. The truth shouts out: The Israelis don’t really want peace, they prefer real estate.


The inner workings of Israeli society have also been unmasked. The appearance of a tolerant, democratic and egalitarian society has been suddenly replaced by an authentic portrait, one that is terrifyingly nationalist and racist. Rabbis and their wives, mayors and parliamentarians all sang together in a discordant choir: no to Arabs and no to foreigners. In the years preceding this year of truth, racists still used to be excommunicated.


In this year of truth we said unabashedly that Meir Kahane was right. Almost half of Israelis oppose renting apartments to Arabs; more than half favor an oath of allegiance to the state; rabbis’ wives join their husbands in calling on the modest daughters of Israel not to go out with Arabs; a Knesset member says that those who smuggle in “infiltrators,” as migrant workers and war refugees were termed this year, should be shot in the head; and one of his colleagues blames the Russians for Israelis’ drinking habits.


Meanwhile, we proposed a law calling for foreigners who criticize Israel to be expelled if they visit here, a Jaffa school principal does not allow his students to speak Arabic, an activist against the occupation was jailed for taking part in a cycling protest, and a Bedouin-rights activist was jailed for an even longer period for the offense of having an illegal garage.


This is the plethora of reports about a day in the life of the country in the latter part of this cursed year. Such reports were thrown in our faces almost daily. The foreigner is spreading diseases and crime, and the Arab student wants to disinherit us with the price of a two-room rented apartment. We also held campaigns of intimidation and sowing fear of the different and the other that would not have shamed the most dubious regimes of the past. We had disgraceful demonstrations against refugees and Arabs, with the encouragement of part of the establishment and silence from the others, out of which one tune can be heard – a tune of arrogance and nationalism.


This was also the year of Yisrael Beiteinu’s Avigdor Lieberman, no longer a wolf in sheep’s clothing but a neighborhood bully who doesn’t care about the consequences. An attempt to defuse the crisis with Turkey and then, boom! – a blow to the head. Instead of the never-ending peace speeches by President Shimon Peres, this year the foreign minister repeatedly slapped the entire world in the face for us. Not only Kahane was right; Lieberman was too. He speaks the truth, the truth of Israel.


There is nothing like sunshine for disinfecting, so this was a relatively good year. Perhaps precisely this flood of dubious nationalist feelings from the depths of the soul, which had been latent for years, will at long last stir this slumbering nation to action. Perhaps after this year, the minority that thinks differently will finally open its eyes. Maybe when the flames are closing in around us all, we will understand that this is not the society we want to live in. And maybe the world will understand who is involved.


Tonight at midnight, when the French champagne is flowing like water and the French kisses are bestowed on the mouths of our beloveds, perhaps we will begin to understand that next year will be fateful. It will be the last year we can still save something. If a miracle occurs and this does indeed happen, we will be grateful for the year that has passed, the year of truth for Israel.

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