Saturday, March 24, 2012

About the disgrace of bigotry and hypocrisy, and a reflection on true being

Comments Trail:

@Harry's Place:
Disgraceful and disgusting

I left two comments, the first one of which did not make it through moderation (or whatever filter is used to monitor the comments). My first comment was in response to comments made by the poster Shmoo-el

( The following is an edited version of the comment I had originally submitted, as I had additional thoughts about it since it did not appear on Harry's Place's comments thread):

"Shmoeel 1: .... My first thought was “You know you are an Arab, you just happen to be Jewish” because this was a very dark skinned kid, obviously Mizrachi. In fact, most of their fans were dark-skinned Mizrachi Jews. No that this is always the case, but they tend to be more macho, less educated, poorer. At least in Israel. In any other Middle Eastern country you’d look at them think they were a bunch of Arabs. ....

shmooel 2: .... These are Arab-looking Jews from Arab lands, where they were persecuted by the majority population. Now in Israel they are poorer then the white Jews around. They take out their frustrations on the Arabs. Shit rolls downhill...."

[Correction by CC: these are second and third generation Israelis born to parents who fled from Arab lands, languished for years in refugee camps (ma'abarot) in Israel before being settled in hoods and frontier towns, like Sderot. Some historical awareness and accuracy wouldn't hurt Shmoo who probably conceives of himself as a "white" Jew. What's a "white" Jew, BTW?]

These statements triggered a memory of a chain of similar Mizrahi-loathing sentiments made by much more important persons than the said Shmoo-el:

"During a Labor Party conference in Tel Aviv's Malchei Yisrael Square in 1981, the Israeli entertainer Dudu Topaz said, "It's a pleasure to see the crowd here, and it's a pleasure to see that there are no chahchahim [a derogatory word alluding to Israeli Jews of Middle Eastern background] who ruin election gatherings. The Likud's chachchahim are at Metzudat Ze'ev [Likud Party headquarters]." (Wiki)

Peter Beinart: "Most settlers aren’t bad people; many poor Sephardic, Russian and ultra-Orthodox Jews ..."

Golda Meir, welcoming in 1970 to a group of Soviet newcomers:

"You are the real Jews," she told them. "You speak Yiddish ? Every loyal Jew must speak Yiddish, for he who does not speak Yiddish is not a Jew." (Source)

"Gal Ochovsky, on his television show, conducted a terrible racist interview with Ronen Shoval from “Im Tirtzu”.** “You are such an Ashkenazi , he told him “with blue eyes”. And that really is wrong that this young man with his Aryan looks should behave like the barbarians and the Feiglins. In the mind of the enlightened Ochovsky in order to be a dangerous racist you need to be dark skinned, dark-eyed. Though, in fact, Feiglin has blue eyes, too. This won’t do any good. Ochovsky has solid opinions about blond blue-eyed people. For him they are über alles and that was just for starters. There was no interview there, only an unleashed fulmination, cringing support for and self-ingratiating to Bakri, the great actor, and analogizing “Im Tirtzu” to McCarthyism and the benighted thirties. So said the man who loves the Aryan look." (Here)

Hannah Arendt, in a letter to Karl Jaspers, "described the Israeli crowds as an “Oriental mob, as if one were in Istanbul or some other half-Asiatic country.”[4] The Israeli police force, she states, “gives me the creeps, speaks only Hebrew and looks Arabic.”[5]

Bialik, Israel's "national" poet, is notoriously rumoured to have said that he hated the Sephardim because they reminded him of the Arabs. Whether he expressed himself as explicitly as implied in this statement is not something I'm willing swear an oath on, but clearly he had serious problems wirh Sephardic Jews.

I'm not sure exactly what this random collection of quotes says about their authors, or their subjects. But I do know there is an unpleasant smell of bigotry, xenophobia, and possibly racism, wafting about them. Apparently, dark skin and Arab-looks are fine to talk about disparagingly, and freely, in certain circumstances.

And what about the use of "Arab" as a derogatory analogy?

To quote another Arendt's famous quote:

"What makes it so plausible to assume that hypocrisy is the vice of vices is that integrity can indeed exist under the cover of all other vices ... except this one... only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core."


Second comment:

I googled for information of the event in Hebrew and found this the only source (so far) that was not relying on Haaretz’s report for its information. The following is the final paragraph in the report. It suggests there might be another version of the events:

“אגב, בדרך כלל כשהאירועים הללו מתרחשים מייחסים אותם ישר לאירגון האוהדים ה”לה פמיליה”. שיחות עם האנשים הבכירים באירגון הביאו למצב כי הם כלל לא ידעו על המקרה ולא מדובר באנשים של האירגון. אחרי שנעשו טלפונים מתברר כי לאוהדים יש גירסה שונה לחלוטין. אחד האוהדים, טל מזרחי סיפר: “לא היו 300 אוהדים וגם לא 100, היו כמה עשרות בכל הסיפור ואחרי זה כל הקניון בא לראות מה קורה אז זה היה נראה הרבה. אף אחד לא בא כדי לריב, היתה שמחה של האוהדים, נכון שהיו קריאות גזעניות ושירים על מוחמד אבל הדברים התלקחו רק אחרי שהפועל הערבי היכה את אחד האוהדים שהתגרה בו עם המטאטא וקראו לכולם לרוץ לשם. תכתבו על המכות שהיס”מ ומג”ב הביאו לאוהד באותו אירוע ואז תבינו למה השתיקו את העניין, פוצצו שם אוהדים בלי הכרה ואלה שנזרקו על החנויות זה אוהדים שלנו על ידי המשטרה ולא הערבים. עם הערבים זה היה בדיוק כמה דקות אבל היס”מ והאבטחה עשו את כל הבלאגן אחרי זה”.

מבית”ר ירושלים הגיבו לאירוע: “אנו מגנים כל מקרה אלימות ונותנים לגורמים המוסמכים לטפל במקרים שכאלה”.

Hasty translation by CC:

By the way, when such events occur, they are directly attributed to the fan “La Familia” organization”. However, conversations with senior people in the organization seem to suggest that they did not know about the case, and that these people[the rioters] were not affiliated with the organization. After a few phone calls it became apparent that the fans have an entirely different version. One of the fans, Tal Mizrahi, said: “There were not 300 fans, and not even 100. Throughout the altercation, there were no more than a few tens of fans, but afterwards the entire Mall came up to see what was happening so it looked like a lot more. No one came to pick a fight. The fans were overjoyed after the game. True, there were racist calls and songs about Muhammad but things flared up after only an Arab worker hit one of the fans who taunted him with a broom, and everyone ran there. Write about how the police and Mall security [acronyms Yasam and Magav which I can’t make out] beat up on the fan and you will understand why they silenced the matter. It’s the fans who were beaten up senseless by the police. They were the ones who were flung upon the store by the police and not the Arabs. With the Arabs it lasted just a few minutes and then the Riot police and Mall security personnel did all the mess afterwards. ”

Beitar Jerusalem responded to the incident: “We condemn any violent incident and expect the authorities to handle such cases.”

Having watched the youtube posted by Abunimah I also wondered about where the “hundreds of rioters” characterization came from.



I have no doubts that expressions of racism and bigotry are present in Israeli society. The quotes I provided above are proof that such negative sentiments are possible, even within Jewish Israeli society, with no history of any violence or hostility emanating from the segment targeted for the bigotry towards those its holders.

I also think that that ALL expressions (and more importantly, sentiments) of racism must be fought and eradicated. My problem is in the tendency to inflate any such event in Israel to monstrous dimensions that demonize Jews who exhibit such negativity, while similar and much much worse occurrences in other countries are regarded as no worse than business as usual, as infantile impulses only to be expected from certain ignorant, undereducated, poor, disenfranchised, classes in society. It is only when these negative events happen in Israel that they assume a magnified, special kind and quality of importance.

To conclude I would like to point out to the folly of any such sentiment as indication of genuine ethnicity and authenticity, by quoting
Rabbi Menahem Mendel of Kotzek about true being:

"If I am because I am I,
and you are because you are you,
then I am I and you are you.

On the other hand,

if I am I because you are you,
and you are you because I am I,
then I am not I
and you are not you"

This piece of wisdom is also an ironic comment on whatever it is that motivated Shmoo-el's bizarre comments about the skin-colour and ethnicity of the Beitar rioters involved in this incident. I am, however, sceptical as to his ability to grasp the meaning of it as it applies to his own being.


At 8:39 AM EDT, Blogger SnoopyTheGoon said...

Shmoo-el is definitely a shmu-ck. No question. But it's a side issue. The rest should be divided in two parts:

1. Bigotry/xenophobia in Israel. It exists, it is artificially supported by some interested parties, but it steadily and slowly dies out. Unfortunately, too slowly.

2. Beitar. Its supporters should be definitely isolated, possibly in a desert area and studied as a social phenomenon without peers. I would suggest sterilization, no matter whether the Beitar fan carries Sephardic or Ashkenazi roots.

Oh, and football in Israel should be strictly forbidden. Aside of eternal shame it doesn't contribute anything.

At 8:58 AM EDT, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"without peers"??

Have you ever taken a look at African-American / Hispanic racism in the US?

At 2:01 AM EDT, Blogger SnoopyTheGoon said...

I should have explained: I didn't mean that Beitar fans are unique in their level of racism. They are unique in their blend of general "rabidness", stupidity and other endearing qualities. Plus the uniquely low level of football displayed by Beitar in particular and all other teams in general.

At 10:08 PM EDT, Anonymous attack on Iran said...

You make the Beitar fans sound like a bunch of drunk English hooligans!

At 5:46 PM EDT, Blogger SnoopyTheGoon said...

Worse, because they don't drink. Mostly, that is.


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