The President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, used the words ‘Israel is a sick society’ to describe the current state of the nation, while addressing Israel’s Academy of Sciences and Humanities last weekend.
“It is time to honestly admit that Israeli society is ill – and it is our duty to treat this disease,” Rivlin told the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities on Sunday at a conference titled “From Xenophobia to Accepting the Other.”
“The tension between Jews and Arabs within the State of Israel has risen to record heights, and the relationship between all parties has reached a new low,” he said. “We have all witnessed the shocking sequence of incidents and violence taking place by both sides. The epidemic of violence is not limited to one sector or another, it permeates every area and doesn’t skip any arena. There is violence in soccer stadiums as well as in the academia. There is violence in the social media and in everyday discourse, in hospitals and in schools.”
From the Jerusalem Post:
The time has come to admit that Israel is a sick society, with an illness that demands treatment, President Reuven Rivlin said at the opening session on Sunday of a conference on From Hatred of the Stranger to Acceptance of the Other.
Rivlin wondered aloud whether Jews and Arabs had abandoned the secret of dialogue.
With regard to Jews he said: “I’m not asking if they’ve forgotten how to be Jews, but if they’ve forgotten how to be decent human beings. Have they forgotten how to converse?” In Rivlin’s eyes, the academy has a vital task to reduce violence in Israeli society by encouraging dialogue and the study of different cultures and languages with the aim of promoting mutual understanding, so that there can be civilized meetings between the sectors of society.
This story has been played around the world, yet totally absent from mainstream media reports across the US and Western Europe – 100% blackout.
From the 1950s through the last decade, the likes of Ariel Sharon, “the Bulldozer”, mastered violence just as the likes of Shimon Peres, the great communicator, mastered the art of public relations.
This was best captured by the Hebrew phrase, yorim ve bochim, literally “shooting and crying”.
While it used to be “Labour Zionism” or the Israeli mainstream left that regretted the killing of Palestinians and lamented the death of children, now it’s the specialty of the Israeli right to bomb and whine. But if the “left” did it with “eloquent prose, stirring poetry, and award-winning movies“, the right does it with cheap cliches and crude lies.
The Summer exposed Israeli society to Western audiences like never before – for 50 days, the mask slipped. Western audiences were not prepared for what they saw.
At the heart of Israeli politics, we saw Israel’s Deputy Speaker Moshe Feiglin call for the total ‘elimination’ of Gaza, while ruling Likud Party lawmaker Ayalet Shaked called for the murder of Palestinian mothers and their children.
Meanwhile, social media was ablaze with such rhetoric.
A Facebook page called “Standing With the IDF”, featured revealing selfies of Israeli women covered in pro-IDF graffiti.
A Facebook page titled “The People of Israel Demand Vengeance!” set up in the wake of the murder of three Israeli teens revealed the same bizarre mix of sex and incitement. Teens posted sun-drenched selfies, no different to so many others filling instagram…except for the fact they are holding placards calling for ‘Death to All Arabs’, or the one below, which reads: Hating Arabs is Not Racism, It’s Moral Values’.
And on the same page, this reaction to the kidnap and murder of teenage Palestinian Mohammed Khadir, in a so-called ‘revenge’ attack that saw the boy forced to drink petrol and burned alive.
All the seeds of the incitement of the past few years, all the nationalistic, racist legislation and the incendiary propaganda, the scare campaigns and the subversion of democracy by the right-wing camp – all these have borne fruit, and that fruit is rank and rotten. The nationalist right has now sunk to a new level, with almost the whole country following in its wake. The word “fascism,” which I try to use as little as possible, finally has its deserved place in the Israeli political discourse.
This observer is Israeli. This observer is Gideon Levy, writer and editorial board member of Haaretz newspaper, whose Grandparents fled to Israel in the 30′s as Nazi Germany annexed Czechoslovakia. A man who dare not use the word fascism lightly, uses it now – despite receiving threats of death and violence from his fellow citizens for so doing.
Western public opinion began to recoil in horror at this genocidal public discourse – even friends of Israel began to ask themselves ‘What kind of state am I supporting?’
An indication of this, is that an effort by President Rivlin to cry after the turkey shoot failed to be played out to Western audiences, whose view of Israel has been transformed over the Summer. Rivlin is the acceptable face of Israel – the quiet, moderate voice to balance the unabashed belligerence of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Only now, no one is listening.