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Israeli yeshiva cloaked racism in religion
Published Mar 13, 2008 9:41 PM
Suppose a group of KKKers and other white supremacists had their own
“church” that was really a center for justifying and organizing
murderous attacks on African Americans. Suppose an African-American person,
tired of lynchings, tortures, beatings and humiliation of his people, came into
this church with guns blazing.
Would there be any doubt that this was a reaction to racism, and not hatred of
Christians? Wouldn’t it be clear who were the oppressed and who were the
Something much like this recently happened in Jerusalem, but the real
relationship of forces has been deliberately obscured by the Israeli and U.S.
governments and the corporate media.
Armed to the teeth with the latest U.S. high-tech weapons, two weeks ago Israel
invaded Gaza by land and air killing 126 people, half of them civilians,
including 24 children, with 13 of the children toddlers or infants.
Ala Abu Dhaim, a Palestinian worker from the Jebel Mukaber neighborhood of East
Jerusalem, “was transfixed by the bloodshed in Gaza,” according to
his sister. (Associated Press March 8) On March 6, Abu Dhaim, a driver who
sometimes made deliveries to the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem, entered
that compound and sprayed the young male students with gunfire, killing eight,
and then was killed himself.
While silent at the Palestinian deaths, the U.S. press was aghast at the
“sacrilege” of shooting down “innocent religious
students.” All sympathy was with the yeshiva student families. The New
York Times carried extra photos of the funeral on its website.
Ala Abu Dhaim was labeled an anti-Semitic villain, as were other individuals
and any organizations that praised his heroism. The Israeli government used his
actions to justify its genocidal assaults on Palestinians in Gaza, claiming a
need to “protect” its people.
But Mercaz Harav was no ordinary yeshiva. Its students’ reaction to the
attack was to chant, “Death to Arabs!” Rabbi David Shalem, director
of the Institute of Talmud Studies at the school, called for the Ehud Olmert
government to attack Palestinians “everywhere, in Gaza, and the north and
inside.” He issued a thinly veiled call for the extermination of
Palestinians by referring to them as present-day Amalekites, who were
“indigenous nomads who attacked the Israelites on their flight from Egypt
and were annihilated by King David.” (New York Times, March 7)
Center of settlement movement
This yeshiva is the ideological and organizational center of the
white-supremacist Israeli settler movement. Cloaked in religion, these
arch-racists oppose any form of Palestinian sovereignty and seek to steal all
Palestinian land by driving off or killing its rightful occupants. An
unofficial arm of the Israeli government, they expand the settler state’s
borders in a “creeping annexation”—as even Israeli Gen. Moshe
Dayan called it.
It is no coincidence that three days after the attack on Mercaz Harav, Israel
announced plans to expand yet another settlement, Givat Ze’ev, five miles
from central Jerusalem.
Many Palestinians regard Mercaz Harav as a right-wing paramilitary
organization, not a religious one. Thus Palestinians in Gaza and elsewhere
demonstrated and cheered when they learned that someone breached its security,
attacking it in the heart of Jerusalem.
Flagship for hatred of Arabs
Israelis also know and some oppose Mercaz Harav. Gideon Levy, columnist for
Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper of record, wrote on March 10: “From Mercaz
Harav emerged the rabbis that led the vilest movement in Zionist history. Most
of the delusional right-wing perpetrators and the mongers of hate for Arabs
came from this flagship.”
Mercaz Harav is the base of Gush Emunim, the most aggressive of the settler
groups. Levy explains: “Without the Gush Emunim movement, supported by
successive Israeli governments, there would be no settlements; and without the
Mercaz Harav yeshiva, there would be no Gush Emunim. This institution, then,
was the cradle of the settlement enterprise and its driving force. Most of the
students killed in the terrorist attack were second-generation
While many Jewish religious students seek exemption from military service, Gush
Emunim encourages its members to join the army and attack Palestinians. One of
its heroes is Baruch Goldstein, who in 1994 burst into Hebron mosque, his
machine gun blazing, and killed 30 Palestinians. (Like many of his co-thinkers,
Goldstein was from the U.S. and while here was a member of the misnamed
“Jewish Defense League,” a racist organization that cut its teeth
by physically attacking Black Panthers in Harlem.)
Moshe Levinger, one Mercaz Harav graduate, set up a settlement in the Park
Hotel in the heart of the Palestinian city of Hebron, where he once killed a
Palestinian shopkeeper. Levinger and his followers continually attack
Palestinian men, women and children in Hebron.
Another graduate is Rabbi Dov Lior, who, according to Levy, ruled in 2004 that
the Israeli Defense Forces were allowed to kill innocent people.
Knowing full well that this yeshiva used religion to cloak extreme racism,
George W. Bush, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and European Union High
Representative Javier Solana all condemned the attack and sent condolences to
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on the eight students’ deaths.
Israeli deaths mourned, Palestinian deaths ignored
One day before the Mercaz Harav attack, 20-year-old Amira Abu Aser, killed by
an Israeli bullet to the head, was buried in Gaza. No international outcry
followed, no condolences from world leaders or from Condoleezza Rice, who was
then in the Middle East. The New York Times Web site showed no extra photos of
her funeral. But the Palestinian people and their supporters won’t forget
The imperialist powers are neither objective observers nor mediators, but share
Israeli goals: to keep the people of the Middle East from reclaiming their land
and their oil. To defend these goals, they cloak the real relationship of
forces in the Middle East and seek to confuse and disarm those who would
support the Palestinians.
Israel remains an oppressor state, an outpost of the Pentagon in the Middle
East. The oppressed Palestinian people are still fighting a national liberation
struggle for self-determination and sovereignty. And their struggle deserves
the support of all.
Articles copyright 1995-2012 Workers World.
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