Racism and Orientalism in the Israeli Academy
I can’t see anything but racism in the discourse of either side in this court case in Haifa, which is considering whether a Palestinian group in the city has affinities to Hamas.
“The Arab mentality is made of “a sense of being a victim,” “pathological anti-Semitism,” and “a tendency to live in a world of illusions,” said Prof. Rafi Israeli, a lecturer in Middle Eastern studies at Hebrew University, on the witness stand Wednesday, adding that the Arabs neglect sanitation in their communities. “Most of the Arab villages are dirtier, physically – it’s a fact,” he said . . . During cross-examination Wednesday, Israeli was asked to respond to questions on a number of issues concerning his viewpoint on the Arabs in Israel, Islam in general, and the sketch he offered of the nature of “the Arab mentality.” The cross-examination, handled by attorneys Avigdor Feldman and Riad Anis, focused on the opinion Israeli wrote for the prosecution and, primarily, on quotes from a book he published in 2002 in which he describes Israel’s Arabs as a fifth column “that sucks on the udders of the country.” . . . Wednesday in the witness box, Israeli reiterated that the Arabs were “a burden on the state.”
The leader of the group against which Israeli was testifying called him a “worm of his people” and a “Nazi.”
I was just trying to imagine a US court case against a member of an American racial minority, in which the witness for the prosecution was a professor from Harvard. Let’s say he alleged that:
*The mentality of X is characterized by the “sense of being a victim”
*and “pathological dislike of outsiders”
*and “a tendency to live in a world of illusions,”
*and who then alleged that X are unsanitary
*and “their neighborhoods are dirtier, that’s a fact” than WASP neighborhoods.
*And then the good professor alleges that they are parasites on America
I can’t imagine a US court judge allowing this sort of testimony, not against an individual but against an entire ethnic group (and allowing it to be termed “expert testimoney”!) Well, of course such things happened in the Jim Crow South, but is that really the sort of society Israelis want for their future?
You can see why the Likudniks have been after me lately, since most of them privately share Professor Israeli’s views of the Arabs, and what better way to forestall the charge of racism on their part than to attempt to create the impression that their critic is the racist for daring to question them on this?
The far rightwing militant settlers in Gaza and the West Bank are engaging in all sorts of theatrics to keep their stolen land. That they would have the bad taste to wear orange stars of David so as to compare themselves to the victims of the Holocaust is not surprising. Mordechai Kedar, a brave man, dared actually say it: ‘ “But Mordechai Kedar, a senior research associate at Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, said “there are lunatics in the settlements who would act with no restrictions. … Lunatics don’t always obey orders and act even against their own interests.” He said that many of the settlers “serve in the army and have access to weapons, and I’m afraid that some people will not hesitate to use them against the police and army that come to evacuate them.” ‘ It should be remembered that most of the settlers also believe it is all right to expropriate land from those fantasizing, dirty, xenophobic, paranoid Arabs of whom Dr. Israeli spoke. And that the extremist Israeli colonialists are supported at least indirectly by US taxpayer dollars to make enemies for the US in the Muslim world.