Hypocrisy of Israel’s right and left wings
Published: 10.07.14, / Israel Opinion
Op-ed: Why do leftists advocate the right to live without strangers only when it comes to Arabs? And why do rightists think they can settle in any Arab neighborhood, but Arabs are not allowed to settle in a Jewish neighborhood?
Once every several months it happens again. Once it’s Arabs who buy a house in a small Jewish community. Another time it’s Jews who buy a house in an Arab neighborhood. Almost every such purchase creates a commotion, as has the recent purchase of homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.
The accusing finger is being pointed at Peace Now, which managed to get a condemnation from the American administration. Why, the right-wing camp asks, are Jews allowed to buy a house in Manhattan but are not allowed to buy a house in Jerusalem?
On the pure legal level, there is no need to mention, it was a lawful purchase. But the legal side is irrelevant. The left and the right are acting like twins on this issue. The left disregards the court’s rulings when it comes to Sheikh Jarrah, the Bedouin communities or Silwan. The right is no different. Arabs are not welcome in settlements. The kibbutzim, it’s worth noting, haven’t been taking in Arab members either.
Not every fear of strangers is an expression of racism. Sometimes, we must admit, the strangers constitute a problem. It happened in northern Israel, when a crazy rabbi arrived at a community with his followers, and they slowly took over it and made the original residents miserable.
The southern community of Nevatim in the Negev opposed the entry of an Arab Bedouin family in the past. The women of the family wear a burqa. It scares the Europeans too. Other countries have even introduced legislation against the burqa. It’s even more frightening in a small community. What will happen when five other families from the burqa department ask to join?
The right to maintain a lifestyle, community life, a national majority, is a basic right. Those who protest against the settlement of Jews in Sheikh Jarrah or Silwan are protesting for that exact right. Because it is the Arabs’ right to live without the strangers, Jews this time, who are likely not arriving with clean hands.
Why does the left understand that when it comes to Arabs, but finds it difficult to understand that when it comes to Jews? And why does the right think it has the right to settle within any Arab neighborhood, but the Arabs are not allowed to settle in the heart of a Jewish neighborhood?
We could draft a rule distinguishing between racism and cases in which maintaining a majority is an appropriate matter: First of all, the right should be given only to those people who respect it when it comes to other people. Secondly, a person is permitted to oppose the members of a foreign community who are not interested in integrating into the community, but in undermining it and banishing and taking over and forcing.
Will the Jews who insist on living in Silwan welcome Muslim families from the burqa department, who wish to live in a Jewish neighborhood, with a red carpet? We know the answer to that. The same question should also be directed at those Arabs who wanted an apartment in a Jewish community. Will they give Jews the same right? We know the answer here too.
Kurt Lewin, the father of modern social psychology, said similar things when he maintained that one should not be tolerant towards those who are intolerant. That’s both simple and true. Although we are in the multicultural era, tolerant Europe has not recorded much success. All of Europe is agonizing, afraid and struggling. Veteran residents are fleeing and emigrating from many neighborhoods.
We must be careful. Those who prevent people from renting an apartment to an Arab student in Tel Aviv are racist, because there is a difference between living in a big city and a settlement from the “just to spite” department in a small community.
The Jewish settlement in Silwan and in Sheikh Jarrah raises another dilemma, because the eastern part of the city is not the only place where there is Jewish property from before the state’s establishment. There is Arab property in the western part of the city too. Those who insist on acting on the right to property and right of return are justifying similar demands from the Arab side.
This is foolish. Whoever wants a Jewish and democratic nation state, whoever opposes the right of return, whoever doesn’t want claims from refugees, must understand that sometimes, only sometimes, the insistence from the right side of the map is not national. It’s anti-Zionist.
Hypocrisy of Israel’s right and left wings