Saturday, December 3, 2011

This Has Got to Stop

It's hard to know which battle to pick first. These days, in Israel, there are so many of them. Too many of them.

We could begin with all of the discrimination that is gaining ground against women. A number of ultra-Orthodox Jews, from the areas of Mea Sha'arim in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak, for example, are having women sit in the back of the bus, and walk on separate, small makeshift sidewalks created solely for women, are publicly walking out and protesting against women singing in public, and/or 'encouraging' women to be 'modest' and to cover themselves completely from head to toe, including wearing a huge, long shawl, that transforms the woman into a walking blob.

For all of you who feel that these injustices against women are too much - here is a link to an action, initiated by the New Israel Fund 

(Below follow photos of David and me participating in the action. Take your own photos, send them to the NIF, and join the call)

Number two on the list (though, this one is no less important than number one), deals with the proposals in the Knesset to set limits on democracy. One of the latest dark proposals sets to impose a 45% tax on human rights and 'left wing' NGOs. Here is a link to a Ha'aretz editorial about the dangers. A number of Knesset members propose law after law after law, each time hoping to curb democracy and curb the role/independence of the judicial system. (See my previous post on Democracy 101)

Number three is the deligitimation and the outward cynicsm, by the power holders, against the social-economic justice movement that began this summer. Last week, the annual Israel-Sderot Conference for Social Issues was held at Sapir College. (Here is the link to the English page of the conference, though it's a bit outdated. The new stuff is only in Hebrew)

This conference, which was conceptualized, and is still advertised, as being a platform for all peoples in the country, an alternative to the mainstream conferences that showcase Israeli capitalists and politicians, while ignoring pressing social issues, has become a 2 day platform for the army, for the powerful and for the politicians, even more mainstream and more anti-social reform than the Herzliya Conference and the Caesarea Conference ever dreamed of being.

For example, when I read through the program, and did some quick arithmetic, I found that 98.2% of the lecturers and panelists were Jewish-Israelis and only 1.8% were Arab citizens of the State. Of the 36 panels, only 2 focused on development in the Negev (Sapir is situated in the Negev) and there was not one Arab speaker on either of these panels, a travesty, given that approximately 200,000 of the Negev population are Arab. (I could go on... for those of you interested, write me and I will send you what I wrote in Hebrew about this).

So, in addition to the discrimination, and frightening moves toward fascism, we now also have blatant cynicism in the guise of a social conference being held in the heart of the periphery. (This may be the reason why Sapir continues to be the host of this conference. There is more readily available sand to be thrown in people's eyes in the desert than in the more northern regions of the country...)

All of this has to stop and soon is not soon enough.

1 comment:

  1. I drove through various neighborhoods in Jerusalem yesterday (Friday) afternoon, well before Shabbat was coming in, with Joan Baez' "Diamonds & Rust in the Bullring" album blasting from my car's CD player. Mercedes Sosa sings on there, too... It was very, very energizing. A little Joan Baez or Mercedes Sosa at full volume goes a long way...