It’s Coming to You

PALESTINE / ISRAEL, 26 July 2010

by Gideon Levy - Haaretz

This piece is not meant for the false patriots, the brutes and the brainwashed, for those who want a Jewish, Arab-free Knesset; a Jewish, foreigner-free society; and a state without B’Tselem or the High Court of Justice.

This piece might not be meant for everyone. Nationalists, racists and fans of militarism and fascism can continue to be satisfied by the developments of the past few months. For them, democracy means only an election every few years, tyranny of the majority and the crushing of the minority, lockstep thinking, the state above all else, Judaism before democracy, a coopted media and clapped-out control mechanisms, an academia under supervision and citizens subject to a loyalty oath – and to hell with all the fundamental values, which are being trampled before our very eyes. This piece is not meant for the false patriots, the brutes and the brainwashed, for those who want a Jewish, Arab-free Knesset; a Jewish, foreigner-free society; and a state without B’Tselem or the High Court of Justice.

But they are not the only components of Israeli society. There remains another significant component. The legions who gathered to protest the Sabra and Chatila massacre of 1982 are still with us. There are many people here who know the history, who understand democracy, who should be terrified by what is going on.

Terrified? That’s exactly the point: They’re not. They hear what happened to MK Hanin Zuabi, and are silent. They hear MKs from the center and the left verbally bullying their Arab colleagues, and turn a deaf ear. They read about the torrent of dangerous draft laws, and show forgiveness. They witness the McCarthyist witch hunt against nonprofit organizations, MKs and university professors, and remain complacent. They realize something is happening here that poses a greater threat than all of the external threats, whether real or imagined, that lie in wait for Israel, and they persist in their indifference.

From history they have learned that regimes that begin to act this way are doomed, that Israel is on a slippery slope, mainly because its control mechanisms have all been rendered impotent, and yet they do not protest. They sense that something terrible is happening, but fool themselves into believing that “it won’t happen to me.” They hear every day about the growing danger, and they cluck their tongues, sigh, complain and abandon the field. This piece is meant for them.

Zuabi is hounded, MK Ahmed Tibi is threatened – so what, they’re Arabs. Those who express unconventional views are denounced as traitors, boycott organizers will be fined, Gaza flotilla participants punished, human rights activists and critics of the Israel Defense Forces outlawed – and the majority of Israelis think that nothing bad will happen to them as a result. They think that to be a good citizen it’s enough to support Gilad Shalit. If some Jewish community abroad were under siege they would put together a solidarity flotilla, but when Zuabi is punished for performing a simple act of identification with her people, they do not care.

They hear about the rabbis who inveigh against leasing apartments to foreign workers, about the witch hunts against foreigners who cross the border illegally in search of work, about the deportation of the children of refugees, and about rising police violence. They think it’s not nice, but that it won’t happen to them. They see the representatives of Kadima, their party of hope, joining this campaign of incitement. They see the representatives of this false “centrist” party out-Liebermaning Avigdor Lieberman. They see their leader, Tzipi Livni, cloaking herself in disgraceful silence, and they do not protest the deception being perpetrated against them by their fraudulent party. Why? Because they are convinced that they themselves are in no danger.

The time has come to tell them, the ones who have withdrawn and who care only about their own lives, that it’s coming. Soon, soon, it will happen to you. It won’t stop at the Arab MKs or at the NGOs, not at the universities and not at the demonstrators. It won’t even stop at your doorstep. It will enter your daily life. Police violence? It will come to your children, too. Thought police? It will reach you, too. Your newspaper and your television will look different; the Knesset, your courts and your schools will be unrecognizable. It has happened more than once, and it will happen here, too. If not today, then tomorrow. The monster has reared its ugly head, it is approaching all of us, no one remains who can stop it and when it gets here, it will be too late, much too late.

________________________

Gideon Levy is a Haaretz columnist and a member of the newspaper’s editorial board. He joined Haaretz in 1982, and spent four years as the newspaper’s deputy editor. He is the author of the weekly Twilight Zone feature, which covers the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza over the last 25 years, as well as the writer of political editorials for the newspaper.

Levy was the recipient of the Euro-Med Journalist Prize for 2008; the Leipzig Freedom Prize in 2001; the Israeli Journalists’ Union Prize in 1997; and The Association of Human Rights in Israel Award for 1996. His new book, The Punishment of Gaza, has just been published by Verso Publishing House in London and New York.

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