The worst thing about David Brooks's twelfth visit to Israel the other day (and let me say: Brooks is probably the best writer at the Times, which makes his religious investment in the country the more problematic) was the column's message: Wow, ha, how rude and tough these Israelis are, pushing in and out of shopping lines. This is a kind of Jewish dialect humor. You hear it about Israelis all the time. But of course Brooks does not go to the Occupied Territories, or Gaza, to observe the horrifying manifestations of this toughness, in Jim-Crow practices. Southerners surely proffered similar enchanting veranda stories about slave-holding society back in the day.
Now here is the shadow side of Brooks's column: the agony that sensitive Israelis are experiencing with their new racist Foreign Minister. Brave journalist Noam Sheizaf of Maariv runs the Promised Land blog here, and reports on his successful effort to post anti-Arab statements made by politicians on Israeli newspaper websites. Why did he do so?
here that the public atmosphere in Israel is becoming more and more
racist towards Arabs. A good example of this can be found in the
comments (“talkbacks”) on all major internet sites…
What I write here is “a non-story” for most Israelis. We are used to this kind of talk. Same as the “death to all Arabs” graffiti around the country, or the army T-shirts Haartez reported about recently.
This kind of hate-talk, which used to exist for years only in the ranks
of the illegitimate extreme-right, is now well within the Israeli
mainstream. And very few people seem to care. If you understand this,
you understand how Liberman got to be our Foreign Minister. It wasn’t
despite his racist talk, but rather because of it.
Says Antony Loewenstein, who passed this along: "Such voices of moderation against Israeli racism exist, but they're far
and few between. Fear, paranoia and hatred are far easier emotions to
muster, n'est-ce pas?" And I ask: When will American Jews give these support to agonized Israelis?