"Draw me a Monster" Op-ed, Boaz Okon [legal affairs editor], Yediot, June 22 2010 [Hebrew original at bottom of post]
Just like in a children’s connect-the-dots coloring book, where connecting random dots creates a picture, so in Israel, if you connect a number of horrifying, multiplying incidents, you begin to see a monster.
Dot number one: a school in Emmanuel segregates students along ethnic lines. The court, upholding the principle of equality, orders the segregation to be canceled, but is held in contempt by an entire prejudiced community. They rely on the old defense plea “tu quique” — “you too” — meaning you too maintain hidden segregation. That is a pathetic and perverse defense, but it is disturbing because the number of mizrahi Jews in academe, the legal institutions and the senior civil service is too low.
Dot number two: MK Hanin Zoabi joined the flotilla to Gaza. As a result, Knesset members shouted at her “go to Gaza.” Zoabi is an Israeli citizen. Even if her actions are infuriating, you cannot incite against her and call for her expulsion. In the US, when an elderly journalist suggested the Jews in Israel go to Poland, the president condemned her and she had to step down. Our legislators are trying to pass laws to block the funding of bodies such as the New Israel Fund or B’Tselem, only because they dare tell us the truth to our faces.
Dot number three: in Hebron there is segregation between Jews and Arabs, and entire streets are blocked to Arab Palestinians. This decree was passed after the Jewish Baruch Goldstein’s massacre of Arabs. And as if that weren’t bad enough, Israeli Arabs are not allowed to walk around the streets of Hebron. It turns out that Arab identity in itself constitutes a provocation and pretext for disturbances by Jews. The situation is considered normal, and therefore the segregation regime on Highway 443, which the court canceled on paper, continues to exist in practice.
And another dot: among the senior civil service in Israel, in the courts as well as in academe, the number of Arabs is minute. And another dot: punishment of Arabs is harsher than of Jews. And another dot: at the Sheikh Jarrah demonstrations police are heavy-handed with the demonstrators for Arab rights and gentle with the demonstrators for Jewish rights. And another dot: a judge places obstacles on two men who wish to bring their children born to a surrogate mother to Israel, because of their sexual orientation. And another dot: violation of suspects’ rights is widespread, and more than once false confessions have been extracted from suspects, usually members of minorities, foreign workers or Ethiopians. Nobody investigates the police. The evil spirit, which is quick to convict and loaths differences of opinion and the presumption of innocence, has become part of the culture.
And this too: foreign workers are forbidden from multiplying here, as if they were draft animals. And another dot: gag orders are issued routinely and without justification, and wiretapping orders are issued with a light hand. There is no reaction to illegal wiretapping by the government. In the same way a law is passed to establish a biometric database, despite its violation of privacy, as is the “big brother” law, allowing monitoring of cellular phone calls, e-mail and Internet. And there are many more points concerning the cheapening of the democratic process, buying votes and buying entire parties with offices and benefits.
These dots are growing evidence of the lack of the spirit of freedom and the emergence of apartheid and fascism. If you look at each dot separately you might miss the bigger picture. Like a child watching a military brigade march, and after seeing the battalions, the batteries and the companies, asking: “And when is the brigade finally coming?” the answer is that while he watched the marching of the battalions, batteries and companies, he was actually watching the brigade. So is the situation in Israel. You do not have to ask where the apartheid is. These events, which are accepted with silence and indifference, together create a picture of a terrible reality.