As I have watched what Israel has been doing with regard to the Palestinians in recent history I was angered. They seem to think like the United States that their aggression is allowed because they are special. This behavior is in direct opposition to the liberal, very well educated, intelligent Jewish people I know. They above everyone have fought for human rights. Our own country is the biggest tyrant of them all. Apparently Israel has some of the same issues we have. Is there some kind of alliance against the Arab world and factions of both governments, such as the military? Clearly there is. We know from history and from the opinions of most of our citizens it is not the majority who agree these military actions which harm innocent citizens and cause radicalization leading to terrorism should be carried out. Most of us want Peace not only for ourselves, but everyone else.

I was very pleased to see this essay on the Huffington Post by Hagai Ed-Ad
Executive director of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI).

There's a limit to how many blows democracy can take before it is trampled down and beaten into something else. Democracy and human rights are absolutely essential for protecting who we are, preserving our rights, and enabling us to realize the equality we all deserve.
Quite honestly, we're already living in a "challenged" democracy in Israel. For years now we've counted among us second-class citizens, third-class residents, and fourth-class migrants, not to mention the Palestinians living under occupation whose rights aren't counted at all. This dangerous reality has persisted for many years. Far too many.
But over this past year, the very foundations of our democracy have been shaken. As if the usual threats to our basic values weren't serious enough, we've seen a dangerous shift, propelling us toward a dark abyss. More and more Israelis are feeling this threat. More and more of us understand that the danger to our most basic values -- the ones that enable us to live here together, the ones that give us hope for the future and protect us -- are imminent and real.
This year, racism against Arab citizens has risen to the level of finding sanctuary in key positions of our current government. Attacks on the rule of law have intensified. Incitement against Israeli human rights activists has been unrestrained. The limitations imposed on freedom of expression during Operation Cast Lead were unprecedented, as was the publics' apathy towards the fate of the Palestinians. We've been witness to a government that wants to deport children born and raised here in Israel, that has threatened its Arab citizens and marked them all collectively as "the enemy", and that proposes laws that are inherently undemocratic. It's not the Kahanists or fringe extremists pushing these measures, but our very own government. Something at our core is under attack.
What these predatory legislative initiatives and anti-democratic measures share is that they are rooted in pessimism and fear -- fear of the other, fear of an open and free society, fear of rights that we all have according to the most universal pre-requisite -- our humanity.
Can we allow our democracy and our rights to thus be weakened and threatened right before our very eyes? No way.
We are not afraid of equal citizenship for all Israelis, nor do we have any qualms about living in a society where human rights are simply ours. Human rights are not conditional -- they do not succumb to racist legislative initiatives, nor are they subservient to arbitrary government decisions that would wave human rights about as a carrot or a stick. There are those who would ransom the concept of human rights, who would transform our society into a limited democracy. There is no such thing. A state in which human rights are conditional is no democracy at all, and there is no way we will allow Israel to slide down that slippery slope.
We are not afraid to send our children to classrooms in which students of Ethiopian decent and native Israelis, or Sephardic and Ashkenazi girls, or Arabs and Jews, are given equal educational opportunities; are respected as human beings; and are provided with the skills to explore, evolve and make the most of their potential. We are becoming increasingly concerned that our children are attending schools that provide them with models of segregation, discrimination and alienation, which push aside the mission of educating for human rights.
We are not afraid to speak about the Nakba, but we are afraid of the possibility of living in a country that silences its citizens. Freedom of expression belongs to us all, and there is no way we will surrender it.
We are not afraid of refugees or of migrant workers. We are not afraid of their children. But we are appalled by politicians who believe that people in Israel without Israeli citizenship are not entitled to their human rights. We believe that people are human beings first, possessing unalienable rights; any belief to the contrary completely undermines the concept of human dignity.
We are not afraid of authentic public debate about issues that will determine our future in this country: whether to create a biometric database unlike any other in the world, whether to enact land reform legislation, whether to slash budget allocations for welfare and education. However, we are deeply troubled by a government that attempts to bypass democracy and seeks to determine law through unprecedented underhanded methods that bypass proper public debate, as in the case of Israel's "Economic Arrangements Law".
We will not remain in the closet regarding gays, lesbians, transgendered people and bisexuals -- we state unequivocally that they are equal in their identity, in their love and in their human rights. The verbal and physical abuse directed at a person solely based on his or her sexual orientation or gender identity is dangerous, ugly and, quite simply, racist.
We have no cause to fear equal access for everyone to health services, to housing, to education. And we do mean everyone: Bedouin in the Negev, children in Petach Tikvah, the homeless in Tel Aviv. Our fear is of a society that is apathetic to its periphery, to its weakened populations; a society that is indifferent to those who must forego proper medical treatment because it is not within their financial reach; a society that has no intention of guaranteeing housing for all, quality public medical care, equality in education, or a dignified existence for both the employed and the unemployed.
We do not fear the end of the occupation. We are afraid of its perpetuation, and the entrenchment of a separation regime that discriminates against Palestinians in favor of Israeli settlers in the territories. We are gravely concerned about the poisonous effect the continued occupation has upon our society, upon the rule of law, and upon our chances of becoming a true democracy. There is no way that Israel can be a true democracy without an end to the occupation.

Is it possible for us to stand up to these threats -- and succeed?
We firmly believe that through our combined power as citizens we can succeed in standing together as equals possessing equal rights, without having to compromise our values and with the recognition that it's not too late to turn the tide. Human rights, equality, social justice -- these are not utopian ideals. They are essential conditions for our shared existence, for living decent and worthy lives. The rule of law is not the sole realm of the courts, nor is the preservation of democracy a matter to be left exclusively to the Knesset. When we come out in defense of human rights and democracy, we come out in defense of ourselves. The power rests in our hands.
And this year, for the first time, it also rests in our feet. On Friday, December 11th, in honor of International Human Rights Day, we will take to the streets in Israel's first-ever Human Rights March. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) invites everyone to come out and participate: organizations for social change and equality, youth movements, human rights organizations, activists, and every one for whom it is crucial to protect all human rights for all human beings -- and the future of this society in which we all play a part.
These are our rights and our future. There is no way we can allow ourselves to fail. On December 11th we begin to change direction. We will not wait for the next elections. We will not continue to grumble in the privacy of our homes. We will no longer rely on "someone" to do "something". We remind all those who perhaps have forgotten: We are here. And there is no way we will surrender our rights.

Hatred for Islam and the Arab world is the biggest threat to peace in the world right now. It is being hyped by the military-industrial complex and the radical Evangelical Christian right. One of the criteria for a war is to get the people to hate a specific group of people. The acts of violence against their people then causes them to retaliate. We have seen how our civil rights were taken from us due to a lie which is another criteria for starting a war. It will take a long time to get our civil rights back. We have prisons full of people being mistreated who should not even be incarcerated. Our supreme court was radicalized. We are still harming innocent people in Afghanistan which will cause more people to be against us. We have had no justice for the kidnapping and torturing which was done in our names. Be very wary of any incident which could serve the interests of the war mongering haters and cause people to be angered against the Arab world. It may not be what it appears to be. I am glad the ACRI is working on civil rights in Israel which will ultimately lead to more stability in the middle east. If the United States would get out of Iraq and Afghanistan ASAP it would help decrease negative feelings. Healing the damage done by the GWB regime will take a lot of effort.


Anonymous said...

Oh boy, anti - semitic much? It is very obvious that you do not understand the history of the Palestinians and the Israelis. It is NOT as clear cut as you are saying. Do you have any idea what it is like to be Jewish in a tiny tiny country surrounded by millions who want to see your race killed? Don't you think the Jews are allowed one tiny space to call their own in the entire world? You just don't understand it. If you went to Israel, you might understand. Before passing such harsh judgement, do some REAL RESEARCH on the story from both sides. Because you do not understand it.

Liberals like you (and I am a liberal) don't realize that you are fueling anti-semitism around the world. You of all people, you have been mistreated because of your mental illness. Maybe that might help you understand what it is like to be Jewish. I have had complete strangers come up to me in the Unites States and tell me they wish I was dead and that all Jews were dead. Kids on our block were not allowed to play at the JEW HOUSE.

You just don't understand the issues. Israel would LOVE to live in peace and they even would support the state of Palestine, but not at the expense of losing a home for the Jews in this world. And Hamas does not want peace - that is the part you are missing. They use the Palestinian children as human shields. Have you ever read their mission statement? Their goal is to kill ALL JEWS. Their goal is not to have a two state solution.

I feel so upset when I read a post by someone like you who really should get it but you don't. It is ok to criticize Israel's policies. I don't like everything they do. But please please be thoughtful how you do it and make sure you understand the entire history and both sides. Because Jews really are hated around the world. They arent just feeling paranoid. Even in this country now their is a huge KKK movement and we have teabaggers bring signs of my dead relatives from concentration camps.

God, your post just is so irresponsible. You seemed like a nice and thoughtful person, but you don't get both sides at all. And of all people, I thought you would take the time to do that. Try reading the history from the Israeli point of view. Do you really think the Israelis after years of fighting for their right to survive want to hurt the PEOPLE of Palestine! That isn't even in their chemistry. They of all people understand this. My relatives were born in Palestine and lived there before Israel was established. This anti-Israel sentiment being spread by liberals in Americas is appalling and irresponsible. Like I said it is OK to criticize the Israeli government, it is how you do it. This post is done without thought or mention of the other side or the history.

Celia Harrison said...

First-I was never mistreated because of a mental illness. I have PTSD because I was mistreated. It is not really even a mental illness, it is a psychological injury. Even so I would not equate the exerience of being mentally ill with being Jewish as you do.
Second- I have done a lot of research.I am Aspie after all.
Third-I complain about the aggression of the United States also, what kind of racist does that make me?
Fourth-The point is aggression fuels aggression and causes radicalization.
Fifth-I called my ex who is Jewish and told him someone called me an anti-semite. He got quite a kick out of that.
Six-"Like I said it is OK to criticize the Israeli government", which is what I did yet you wrote quite a bit of material bitching about it. You make no sense.
Seven-Did you identify your actual relatives on those signs those Tea Baggers had? Come on.
Eight-It is clear by your response you can't deal with differing opinions at all and like to resort to name calling.
Nine-Do you realize this post was mostly an essay from the HuffPo written by an Israeli man and he seemed to agree with me?
Ten-You seem to believe that people who disagree with you don't understand the facts or they would think just like you and that just will never be the case.
Eleven-Your reaction is way over the top.
Twelve- There is nothing anti-semetic in this post.

Have a nice day.

ilona@israel said...

first of all to be jewish means to be shy of your nationality from your childhood. i was born in russia. when i was 5 yo my parents told me-you are jewish but you have to keep it in a secret coz people will hate you if they know. can you imagne this feeling? so now we have a chance to separate to have our own space , and again-they want to take it all from us, destroy us. you have no idea wht are you talking abt.

Celia Harrison said...

Here in Alaska those who are not Christian in any form know what it is like to be hated for spiritual/religious reasons.

Let me ask you this, does the man who wrote the article I discussed who is a citizen of Israel not know what he is talking about either?

Anonymous said...

great post. I would love to follow you on twitter. By the way, did you hear that some chinese hacker had hacked twitter yesterday again.