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Listing Wages of Home Cleaners by Race? 5 of the Biggest Outrages From Israel This Week

Israel Incitement Watch #2: Rape joke military regalia, trashing intermarried American Jews and race-based job wages

Some of the worst examples of hateful incitement to come out of Israel in the past week were directed against women. These included misogyny toward women who have romantic relationships with non-Jews, and hate for liberal Jews who don’t oppose these couplings. Another example featured the rape culture that runs rampant in the Israeli army. But perhaps the worst example was an advertisement offering the services of female workers, ranked according to a racial hierarchy.

1. Racial hierarchy for cleaners' wages.

On Friday, independent Israeli journalist Tal Schneider reported that an Israeli firm had been handing out racist flyers in a posh neighborhood of Tel Aviv. The full-color advert asked, “Are you unwilling to hire an Arab women worker for security reasons? Are you sick of being legal employers, and then having to hear demands from laborers only doing odd jobs? There is a solution!!!”

The firm offered up the following solution: non-Jewish, foreign-born women willing to work up to 12 hours a day, whose pay scale varies according to their ethnic origin. Eastern European women with Israeli ID cards (implying that while they may not be Jews, they are likely related to one) cost $17.77 per hour. Eastern European women without Israeli ID cards cost only $13.40 an hour, while African women cost just $12.62 shekels an hour.

In some ways, racist and misogynistic advertisements are worse than similar pronouncements by political and religious leaders, since they are appeals formulated to exploit hate that already exists, opposed to demagogic attempts to incite hatred. 

2. Trashing intermarried American Jews.

This past week also saw Israeli politicians attacking liberal streams of Judaism for not sufficiently stamping out interracial and religious relationships.

The Israeli government finally consented to a 25-year campaign to create a prayer area for the use of liberal Jewish groups in which women and men are full and equal participants at Judaism’s holiest site, the Western Wall. Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin used the occasion to attack the liberal reform movement of Judaism for agreeing to officiate at weddings between Jews and non-Jews, specifically mentioning the marriage between Jewish-American investment banker Marc Mezvinsky to non-Jewish Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

"The reform Jews in the U.S. are a waning world," said Levin. "The assimilation there is of enormous extent. They don't even properly track it inside their communities. The evidence is that a man who calls himself a reform rabbi is standing there with a priest and weds Hillary Clinton's daughter, and no one condemns it, thereby legitimizing it."  

Former Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai went even further, explaining that he objected to the new prayer area because liberal Jews could use it to hold weddings between Jews and non-Jews, and to include canines in their prayer quorums.

3. Officially censoring bloggers.

The first week in February also marked two steps backward for individuals’ rights in Israel. On February 1, the Knesset passed the “stop-and-frisk” law, which permits police officers to conduct bodily searches for weapons in public places a police commander declares to be subject to such legislation. Ostensibly, the law will empower police to maintain order at entertainment venues that can be prone to violence. In practice, however, critics claim it will allow law enforcement to treat people as guilty until proven innocent, and that it will be used to discriminate against Palestinians and other non-Jews.

The Israeli police have also been monitoring social media and attempting to squelch political allyships between people of color in the country. This week, a Haaretz report revealed that a leading young Ethiopian-Jewish-Israeli activist was ordered by Israeli police to remove her Facebook post condemning the Israeli lynching of a non-Jewish Eritrean asylum-seeker. In her post, activist Inbar Bougla rejected the excuse that the lynching had occurred because the attackers had mistaken the victim for a Palestinian militant: “Black people have become terrorists—there was no mistaken identification,” she wrote.

The police immediately responded to her post: “Remove the post at once, I’ll see to it that the post is removed,” and then seemingly followed through on their threat, as the message was deleted from Facebook.

Another worrying development came at the end of the week, when top progressive political blogger Yossi Gurvitz revealed that he had received a directive from the Israeli army censor, ordering him to pre-clear with the IDF any social media posts on the topic of Israeli security. About 30 other bloggers were reported to have received similar orders from the military censor; none of these bloggers, however, are known to express right-wing viewpoints, suggesting that the chilling effect may be politically motivated.

4. Sexist military regalia.

Earlier in the week, the Israeli army chief-of-staff’s adviser on women’s affairs urged IDF soldiers to end the widespread practice of printing up group T-shirts at the end of a military course that feature sexist images and messages. According to the Israeli daily Ha’aretz, Brigadier General Rachel Tevet Wiesel said these informal army regalia “mock rape and treat women as objects, subject them to debasement, mockery and can lead to sexual assault.”

The sexist images include scantily clad women engaging in sexual acts, and the sexist messages include ridiculing a woman for being upset about having been raped, with the claim that specialized army training is even more physically punishing.

Other army T-shirts produced in the past have featured anti-Arab images and messages, including an image of a pregnant Arab women in a sniper’s crosshairs, with the text, “1 shot, 2 kills.”

5. Anti-miscegenationist terrorism.

People who believe Israeli women are the possessions and playthings of Jewish men are also incensed that some of them cross cultural barriers and date non-Jews.

In Israel, Jewish women who socialize and become romantically involved with non-Jewish men—especially non-white non-Jewish men, particularly Palestinians—are targeted by gangs of thugs who patrol cities and towns across the country. This week, one Israeli soldier was charged with violation of privacy and abuse of authority after he documented the details of two Jewish women who were riding in a car with Arab Jerusalemites, and submitted their personal information to the anti-miscegenationist street thugs Lehava.

Attacks on Jewish women who date non-Jews are not a new phenomenon in Israel This week, Bar Ilan University professor emeritus Menachem Friedman published a new book exposing a long-forgotten Jewish group that attacked so-called race-mixers even before the state of Israel existed. In 1940s, a group of ultra-Orthodox Jews calling themselves Eli, firebombed the family home of a woman who was known to date non-Jewish men.

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David Sheen is an independent journalist and filmmaker. His website is www.davidsheen.com and he tweets from @davidsheen.