Joharah Baker on a national climate that fosters racist expression

Below is an excerpt from commentary by Joharah Baker on the recent scandal over Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch’s calling a Palestinian-Israeli policeman a “real dirty Arab.”  The full article can be read at Miftah.

We ‘dirty Arabs’ have had enough

by Joharah Baker
MIFTAH
17 June 2009

What unwritten law is out there that allows Israelis to sling racist insults at Palestinians with impunity? After all my years in this country and the absurdities that come along with it, this is one absurdity I still find hard to digest.

Obviously, my outrage has been most recently rekindled by Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, who during a tour of the old central bus station in Tel Aviv called a Palestinian-Israeli policeman a “real dirty Arab.” Once the words were out, the minister was forced to apologize, saying his remarks did not reflect his worldview. A spokesman for the ministry also issued a statement saying that, “in a moment of jest, and using common slang, the minister said what he said, not intending to hurt anyone.”

If this were an isolated incident or if it were not an Israeli right-wing minister who said it, we might, just might, be inclined to believe this sorry excuse for an explanation. But in Israel’s history with the Palestinians, this can hardly be considered slip-of-the-tongue. Instead, such slurs are embedded in a historically-rooted relationship between Israeli Jews and their perceived Palestinian-Arab subordinates, a relationship that is so lopsided it allows room for those who wish to be verbally abusive against Palestinians to thrive….

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11 Responses to Joharah Baker on a national climate that fosters racist expression

  1. john says:

    To be honest, I cannot begin to understand how this is more worthy of a post than Netanyahu offering the option of a two-state solution and the PA’s immediate dismissal of the idea.

    Thanks for giving me a laugh today, I needed it.

  2. llwynn says:

    Thanks for your comment, John. We assume that everyone who is interested in Middle East politics has already seen the big headlines. We try to spot items of interest in more obscure outlets that might have otherwise escaped people’s attention. I’m glad you are reading Khaldoun, but for the kind of news you seem to be looking for, you might want to stick with Fox.

    — Lisa

  3. raffegold says:

    It’s pretty obvious that there’s racism on both sides of the equation. Have a look at some of these videos:

    http://www.pmw.org.il/

    Remember the infamous Farfour, the Jew-killing Mickey Mouse lookalike who premiered on Palestinian television. Once the Israeli’s murdered Farfour he was replaced by a number of different cute and cuddly martyrs who demanded that Palestinians continue the murder of Jews.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomorrow's_Pioneers

    If we’re addressing a climate that fosters racism lets not restrict it to the one side.

  4. john says:

    “We try to spot items of interest in more obscure outlets that might have otherwise escaped people’s attention. ”

    5 posts down is an article criticising the IDF in Ha’aretz.

    I’d hardly call Ha’aretz an “obscure” outlet.

    But the article criticises Israel, so it is okay for posting on Khaldoun then?

    I’d like to see a debate on here regarding Netanyahu’s proposal and the PNA’s straight out refusal to even negotiate.

    And then the Fox News insult? Wow, that is a bit of an assumption on your part isn’t it, Lisa?

  5. Noor Hammad says:

    John,

    1. Tell me the last time you heard Ha’aretz referred to in the Australian media and then tell me it doesn’t qualify as an obscure source here.

    2. You know good and well that Netanyahu’s “offer” is nothing more than a cynical ploy to appear to be partaking in the ‘peace process’ whilst putting forward a ludicrous “proposal” that no self respecting people could accept, let alone the fact that it falls miles short of what those same people are entitled to under international law, UN mandates, and just common morality.

    Consider for a moment why the Palestinian Authority rejected his “proposal”.

    Netenhayu “proposes” an entity without:

    (a) any control of its borders;
    (b) any control over its airspace;
    (c) any right to arm themselves in any way for self defence.

    That isn’t a “state”. That’s what we call a “prison”, and it is in no way different from the existing arrangement. So much for Netanyahu’s bold “proposals”.

    And as for making “assumptions”, there’s an old idiom you should consider that goes: “the pot calling the kettle black”.

    Hint: you’re the pot.

  6. Rosalyn says:

    ” “We try to spot items of interest in more obscure outlets that might have otherwise escaped people’s attention. ”

    5 posts down is an article criticising the IDF in Ha’aretz.

    I’d hardly call Ha’aretz an “obscure” outlet.”

    What a piece of utter nonsense to pick up on and make an issue out of. perhaps Lisa should have said the contributors to this post try to, sometimes but not all the time, spot items of interest in more obscure outlets that might have otherwise escaped people’s attention.

    The bloggers, i believe, are based in Australia, so Ha’aretz is indeed sort of obscure downunder.

    john, pls, spare us your bleating and go marry the IDF. you can go debate with them the ‘fantastic’ proposal that Netanyahu made, on Fox News.

  7. raffegold says:

    The bloggers may be based in Australia but Lisa also said:

    “We assume that everyone who is interested in Middle East politics has already seen the big headlines.”

    One would hope that anyone who is interested in Middle East politics has read Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya etc.

    If they don’t then I doubt that they would make very good Middle Eastern scholars.

  8. mustafa ramadan says:

    Israel’s Current Leadership
    23-6-09
    The Israeli people is becoming more and more neurotic and aggressive as we see at present, because they elected front-line leaders who are abnormal bullies and neurotics like Netanyaho and Lieberman, liars and honey-tongued ancient men like Peres, rapers of female soldiers like the ex president Ketsab, or corrupt like Olmert the ex PM. They really represent the “chosen” people !!! What good should we expect of such a unique clique ?

    Mustafa

  9. raffegold says:

    Whilst you should rightly condemn this Israeli minister let us not forget that the anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli schoolbooks that are distributed by the Palestinian governments (both the PA and Hamas) also foster another generation of racists.

  10. john says:

    Noor:

    “1. Tell me the last time you heard Ha’aretz referred to in the Australian media and then tell me it doesn’t qualify as an obscure source here.”

    The claim was that this blog tries to discuss issues raised in “obscure” outlets. How ever many times Ha’aretz is mentioned in the Australian media has no relevance to its obscurity. Please don’t try the strawman argument.

    Ha’aretz is one of the main newspapers in Israel and one of the best sources of English news from the Middle East region. The fact is that it is only quoted on this blog whenever it is criticising Israel.

    “2. You know good and well that Netanyahu’s “offer” is nothing more than a cynical ploy to appear to be partaking in the ‘peace process’ whilst putting forward a ludicrous “proposal” that no self respecting people could accept, let alone the fact that it falls miles short of what those same people are entitled to under international law, UN mandates, and just common morality.”

    Any self-respecting people would take action (besides suicide bombing, launching rockets or other terrorist activities) to repair a horrific humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories.

    The Palestinian leadership continue to fail the Palestinian people and have caused far more hurt for the Palestinian people than what Israel ever has.

    A fantastic (and extremely relevant) quote for this was made by Golda Meir, “There will only be peace when they love their children more than they hate us.”

    “Consider for a moment why the Palestinian Authority rejected his “proposal”.

    “Netenhayu “proposes” an entity without:

    (a) any control of its borders;
    (b) any control over its airspace;
    (c) any right to arm themselves in any way for self defence.”

    You’re wrong. What Netanyahu proposes is a state that will be demilitarised and will have no restrictions on airspace for Israeli aircraft.

    It is to the benefit of everybody that a Palestinian state be demilitarised. We’ve all seen how the leadership elite in the Palestinian territories are corrupt.

    Not only is there the risk that there would be a rogue colonel/general who might like to “take matters into his own hands” but there is also the reality that money spent on tanks or F-16s can be spent on infrastructure, schools, hospitals etc. You know, things that will actually HELP Palestinian society.

    “That isn’t a “state”. That’s what we call a “prison”, and it is in no way different from the existing arrangement. So much for Netanyahu’s bold “proposals”.”

    Lol. You have to understand the concept of negotiation, Noor. Negotiations include discussions to make concessions on a range of matters to find a mutually beneficial outcome.

    How about the PA actually meet with the Israelis. If this whole proposal is a farce, then at least the Palestinians would have called the Israelis bluff. They’ve achieved nothing by immediately ruling out any negotiation or speaking with the Israelis. Heaps smart.

    “What a piece of utter nonsense to pick up on and make an issue out of. perhaps Lisa should have said the contributors to this post try to, sometimes but not all the time, spot items of interest in more obscure outlets that might have otherwise escaped people’s attention. ”

    That’s fair enough. But It doesn’t disregard what is biased and selective reporting. Not forgetting that more important issues seem to be conveniently ignored.

    “The bloggers, i believe, are based in Australia, so Ha’aretz is indeed sort of obscure downunder.”

    Ha’aretz is not obscure to anyone who has any interest in the Israeli-Palestine conflict or the Middle East. Those are the people reading this blog.

    “john, pls, spare us your bleating and go marry the IDF. you can go debate with them the ‘fantastic’ proposal that Netanyahu made, on Fox News.”

    Wow, fantastic insult there, telling me to “go marry the IDF”… I feel sorry for whoever you work with and whoever reads your work if you are an academic.

  11. Peter Sheldon says:

    “What unwritten law is out there that allows Israelis to sling racist insults at Palestinians with impunity?” Johara Baker.

    I find it amazing that this sort of tripe comnes from an academic-linked site. I mean, are you still beating your kids, Johara? We can all play this sort of rhetorical game btu it is frankly childish and will do nothing to improve anyone’s lives over there -if that matters to you.

    What a racist comment from a politician? Terrible, yes. Does it happen elsewhere in the democratic world? Unfortunately, yes. What would we expect and hope for? At minimum, a storm of public protest and a grovelling public apology. What happened in Israel? Precisely that. Did he get away with it? No. He was forced to publicly apologise (and grovel).

    This suggests that, in Isreal, senior public figures cannot get away with public racism against Arab-Israelis whatever nasty thoughts they might be thinking (which is all that anti-vilification law can hope for there, here or anywhere else) Does this suggest that Israel is a racist society? No. It suggests racism exists. Surprise. Does Israel have racial vilification laws? Go check! Are they enforced either in spirit or lettter or law? What does the public apology suggest?

    Taken within a contextualised, dynamic historical analysis, what does her commentary suggest about Johara Baker’s intellectual honesty? Very, very sad. What does it suggest about her politico-psychological stance? Even more worrying. Hysterical projection of barely sublimated Jew hatred onto Israeli Jews. That makes her par for ther course for the purveyors of this site.

    How else, as Raffe et al above point out could she not put this stupid and ugly comment in the context of the incessant, vile hate-soaked Jew-hatred that daily spews forth from the formal institutions of the Palestinian Authority, from Hamas and other branches of the Islamic clerical world – to not mention Israel’s other neighbours. Does this come with incessant grovelling apologies from the Palestinian public and its intellectuals? Hardly. Their wall-to-wall racist hatrd is not backed by unwritten laws. Given who are the patrons of that phenonmenon, they ARE the law.

    Johara and the other insecure anti-Israeli screamers on this site who immediately swarm defensively in angry hostility at every rebuttal of their desperate desire for a single narrative, of question-free answers, might one day wish to do some real and interesting research. There are a range of comparative questions I would suggest for which I don’t know the answer. Each is pertinent to this discussion and which should be of interest to anyone who REALLY cares about the future, accepting co-existence of the people on both sides rather than just picking a side).

    1. What is the Israeli government doing to increase the depth and spread of Arabic language skills and knowledge of Arabic culture among Jewish students? How successful (or not) has it been and why? What is the analagous situation within the PA for Hebrew language studies and Israeli/Jewish culture?

    2. What effort is the Israeli government (or its schools) making to increase education in social tolerance or cross-cultural awareness or co-existence and/or democratic civic values in Israeli schools? How effective has this been or not (and why)? What is the PA (and Hamas) doing on this important front and how successful has this been.

    3. Is there anythig in the charter of Israeli government broadcasting that encourages co-existence, tolerance, acceptance among and between peoples? How successful (or not) is this? What is the situation in the media controlled by the PA and Hamas?

    4. What are the laws if any regarding discrimination, vilification etc in Israel (and their effectiveness)? And what is the situation on the PA and Hamas side?

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