The affair broke out on Dec. 7 when some 36 rabbis signed a letter calling on their flocks not to sell or rent apartments to non-Jews -- meaning, in an Israeli context, basically Arabs. By Dec. 9, two separate developments had taken place: on the one hand, secular Israeli Jewish politicians were quick to denounce the rabbis; on the other hand, some 240 other religious figures expressed their support for the racist ruling. Now for all the disclaimers the secular politicians may make, the sad fact is that they have failed to take concrete action against the rabbis. They understand the rabbis may be crazy, but their craziness is quite mainstream: up to 46% of Israeli Jews don't want to live next to an Arab.
The curious thing is how news agencies try to present a "balanced account." Associated Press, in first reporting the racist ruling, claimed:
Israeli Jews have increasingly been questioning the loyalty of Arab citizens, who legally enjoy the same rights but tend to be poorer and discriminated against in state funding and job opportunities.
Arabs do not enjoy the same rights as Jews. Jews are entitled to the benefits of the Law of Return; Arabs are not. How can this influence someone's life? By affecting their ability to remain a citizen. Israel's Nationality Law provides that:
# 11. (a) Where an Israel national -
* (1) became an Israel national on the basis of false particulars; or
* (2) has been abroad for seven consecutive years and has no effective connection with Israel, and has not proved that his effective connection with Israel was severed otherwise than by his own volition; or
* (3) has committed an act constituting a breach of allegiance to the State of Israel,
the District Court may, on the application of the Minister, annul his nationality.
As can be seen, an Arab Israeli who pursues a career abroad may have his nationality revoked and loses any further right to it, while a Jewish Israeli in a similar situation can reapply for it under the Law of Return. Hardly the same rights for both groups of people.
AP goes on to report:
Meanwhile, some members of the Arab minority have become radicalized by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and are openly speaking about turning the Jewish state into part of a binational state that would be home to Israelis and Palestinians both.
You see, one outrage cancels the other. The rabbis may want to deny housing to the Arabs, but the Arabs want a country for all. Both equally worrying forms of hate.
Still more from the venerable Associated Press:
Rabbi David Rosen, the interfaith adviser to Israel’s chief rabbinate, described the rabbis’ action as “disturbing” but said he did not think that the majority of the country’s rabbis would agree and called it a product of the lingering conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
“The rabbinate as a whole isn’t xenophobic or hostile to Arabs,” Rosen said. “As long as the conflict goes on here, it’s logical to assume that the attitudes of all sides will harden, which is deeply regrettable.”
That this kind of logic can be presented without objections is striking. Of course, the Catholic clergy as a whole is not paedophilic, but child-molesting priests taint the whole Church so long as action isn't taken against them. At the very least, that "majority of the country’s rabbis" could produce a counter-document and shun their hateful colleagues. It hasn't happened. It won't happen.
Also, the "hardening" of positions is of a very diferent nature and significance when one group can hurt the other with its hard positions but not the other way round.
On Sunday, the hate festival seemed to continue as the rabbis of the Israeli Jewish city of Rosh Ha-Ayin, including the chief rabbi, declared a ban on hiring Arabs at stores which employ Jewish girls. "They want to steal our daughters" -- sound familiar?
Since the story was published in Hebrew and not picked up by main news agencies, Peres felt in no hurry to repudiate the incident.