The Enlightened Racism

Last week, in Kibbutz Beit HaEmek in northern Israel, a vote was held in order to decide whether three single parent asylum seekers and their children should be allowed to stay there.

With a majority of 92 against 87, the decision was made against their absorption. It’s not just any Kibbutz but one with an especially high percentage of Meretz voters.

In south Tel Aviv no vote was held. Who are they to be asked? Who are they to have a right to decide someone’s fate? In Afula as well, where last week a demonstration was held against selling apartments to Arab families, no one asks anyone.

Other kibbutzim voted for accepting only a few asylum seekers. What would they have done if the they were asked to accept 100 families? The outcome is known beforehand. More than 40,000 people live in Afula. 150 protested selling the apartments to the Arab families.

In a defamatory article written against the residents of Afula in a paper intended for people who think they’re enlightened, it said “sewage water is running here, according to the zeitgeist, visible and foul-smelling.”

There was no mention of the vote in the Kibbutz, in addition to the demonstration in Afula. It wasn’t a case of 150 out of 40,000 but rather a majority of 92 out of 179. The racism should be attached to those who are not “one of us.”

It’s safe to assume that most of the authors of the articles against racism don’t have next door neighbors who are Arabs or asylum seekers.

So what happens when they come? In many cities in the western world there’s a phenomenon called “White flight”. When foreigners come, the old ones run away.

“It’s not political but rather due to fear of the foreigner, the alien, the unfamiliar,” says Nurit Barkai from Beit HaEmek.

In Afula they are also scared. In Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah they also don’t want Jews. Because sometimes, only sometimes, foreigners are unwelcomed guests.

Objecting to someone only because of their ethnicity is racism. When a Jew moves to Munchen, he doesn’t want to be evicted. He doesn’t object to the existence of Germany. He doesn’t take part in riots, like the ones which have been occurring recently in south Tel Aviv. Those who didn’t want him back then, in the dark days, and those who don’t want him now are racists.

However, not all opposition is racist. According to the EU agreement, initiated by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, regarding Cyprus, there’s a limit on the percentage of Greeks that are allowed to live on the Turkish side of the island, despite the fact that they were expelled from there only in 1974.

That wasn’t racism but rather a way to prevent conflicts and unrest. The recognition of the right to self-determination, not only on the national level but on the local one as well.

When someone who wants to evict Palestinians moves to a Palestinian neighborhood, he’s the problem, and not those who don’t want him there.

When to a Jewish neighborhood moves in one of Raed Salah’s followers or Haneen Zoabi—they’re the problem, not those who don’t want them there.

The rest of the story is predictable and it’s not pleasant.

For instance, what should a British gay man feel if he lives next to a Muslim neighbor, when most British Muslims support making homosexuality illegal? The answer is simple: if the moment a foreigner becomes the majority, he would evict you from your neighborhood, there’s no obligation to make him your neighbor.

According to any fair test, racism, if we’re talking about actual racism, is about those who refuse to accept three small single-parent families rather than those from Afula of south Tel Aviv. But the enlightened woman who wrote about the foul-smelling ones in Afula, probably tells herself how wonderful we are.

Another writer, from the same paper and regarding the same issue, described it as the extinguishing “of the additional unique contribution of the beam of light from Tel Aviv on the dark Israeli times.”

I want to wipe my eyes after reading it.

The enlightened smugness reaches new heights. The LGBT community could not have said it better.

The chosen people. The superior versus the dark. She and they are one.

The residents of Afula are not racists. But sometimes those who write about them, reveal their own racism.

Reprinted with author’s permission from YNet News

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