On a related topic, read Bradley Burston's latest column in Haaretz - This is what is wrong with a Jewish state. He writes:
The undercurrent of racism in this year's election campaign was a clear warning. Overtly anti-Israeli Arab legislation and bills aimed at curbing Arab freedom of expression have soiled the concept of a Jewish state to a nadir that Israel's worst, most energetic enemies have never managed to approach.His conclusion:
The outpouring of hatred has since become an equal-opportunity sewer. Radical settlers and immigrants from the former Soviet Union have voiced unabashed, despicable racist attitudes toward a black president of the United States.
Inevitably, fellow Jews in Israel have become targets of the hatred as well. In Jerusalem, Jews who presume to be among the most devout of all adherents to Judaism, think nothing of attacking fellow Jews on the Sabbath with cinder blocks and glass bottles, all in protest over the opening of a parking lot.
Rabbis in the West Bank give Israel's enemies new ammunition week to week, by condoning killings of Palestinians.
And, in a reference to Israeli Arabs, ultra-Orthodox Housing Minister Ariel Atias this month chose the Bar Association, of all venues, to declare that he saw it as "a national duty to prevent the spread of a population that, to say the least, does not love the state of Israel." He went on to explicitly argue for segregation, not only between Jews and Arabs, but between ultra-Orthodox and secular Jews.
Hatred has no place in a Jewish state. And a Jewish state which sanctifies intolerance in the name of tradition or patriotism, will inevitably prove unwelcome not only to non-Jews, but to the Jewish People as well.Burston's words are welcome, but the revolting phenomena that he writes about are not new. I remember, in 1988, going to the Kotel with the Women of the Wall. We were trying to pray in the women's section, wearing tallitot, carrying a Torah scroll which we intended to read from. After we set ourselves up and started the morning prayers, Haredi women started to scream at us, and eventually Haredi men from the men's section invaded the women's section and not only screamed at us, but attacked us physically. One man tried to take away the Torah scroll, in the process almost knocking it to the ground. I was knocked down twice, once by a woman and once by a man. The police finally intervened, not to protect us, but to escort us away from the scene, leaving the Haredim alone.
I also remember at about the same time going to leftwing demonstrations sponsored by various organizations, including Peace Now, and having counterdemonstrators scream obscenities and worse at us ("Hitler should have killed you too!"). Once I was participating in a demonstration of Women in Black at Paris Square, and a group of Kahanists came to demonstrate against us, screaming in hatred and threatening us physically. The police came and intervened by tear-gassing all of us.