Driving yesterday, I turned on the radio. I don’t drive much, and don’t listen to the radio much. Maybe if I did, I would have been numbed to what I heard. But I don’t, and so I was shaken and frightened by the radio’s slew of casual, matter-of-fact racism, accompanied by jolly music.
The racism wasn’t part of an interview with an Israeli politician. That I would have brushed off: Nu, what’s new? Many Israeli officials are racists.
It wasn’t part of news “reporting”: That too, while jarring, is par for the course. Israeli mainstream news reporting is generally slanted and xenophobic. Like mainstream news reporting everywhere, with an added bit of unique Israeli flair thanks to the fact that Israel’s most popular radio stations are, um, run by the military. (Gal gal gal galots of likelihood that an occupying army will not insert its propaganda into its radio shows…)
It was part of the advertisements.
Advertisement #1: “מרוץ הלפיד!,” A Relay Race!”
My ears perk. I’m a runner. It could be fun to sign up for a race. Maybe even bring some friends along.
“בבקעת הירדן.” In the Jordan Valley.
Ha. Oh well.
’’להנצחת זכרו ופועלו של רכבעם זאבי” For the Eternalization of the Memory and Actions of Rechavam Ze’evi.
Oh. Wow. Come to a relay race! In the middle of Occupied Territory which Israel clearly has no intent of ever de-occupying as “Peace Talks” crumble onwards! In order to eternalize the memory and -here’s the real kicker- THE ACTIONS of an Israeli politician who advocated forced Population Transfer! Hey: at least they’re consistent.
Italicized Snark aside for a second: Ze’evi was assassinated in 2001 by a member of the PFLP. I am an advocate of nonviolence in almost all scenarios, and thus see Ze’evi’s assassination as wrong. That said, as far as those killed as a result of this conflict, Ze’evi is not the first- in fact, he may be one of the very last- whose memory and actions deserve to be eternalized. Here the “Jordan Valley Regional Council” is just taking their cues from the Knesset, which passed a law in 2005 mandating Ze’evi’s memorialization. As Haaretz wrote in an editorial last month, “[Ze’evi] headed an extreme right-wing political movement, Moledet, which wasn’t far from Meir Kahane’s Kach party. The shocking idea most closely identified with Ze’evi’s worldview is his proposal to “transfer” Palestinians out of the territories Israel occupied in 1967… The mistake inherent in the law to memorialize Ze’evi must be corrected by repealing it. Israel should be ashamed of the fact that a man with such views once served in its government.” In 2005, the same year the law was passed, a Ynet poll found that Israelis saw Ze’evi as the “7th greatest Israeli of all time.”
Advertisement #2: מה עושה חקלאי פיקח? What does a clever farmer do?
I dunno. Sell his crops outside of the Ethnic Transfer Relay Race?
שם את כל התירס בחממות כדי שייצא לו פופקורן? תשובה לא נכונה Puts his corn in a greenhouse so that he will have popcorn? Wrong answer.
Ha. Sort of cute, actually.
חקלאי פיקח מעסיק עובדים ישראלים ומקבל תמריצים כספיים! A clever farmer employs Israeli workers and gets financial benefits!
OK. The US also has the discourse of “American jobs for Americans.” It’s usually creepy there, also. I’m sure it exists all over Europe as well. But racism in other countries doesn’t make me feel better about racism in my own, [especially what with the whole Occu-We don’t use that word!-Poodle]. Farm work in Israel is often done by foreign workers from Asia (it was done by Palestinians, for the most part, until the 1990s when Israel began closing its “border”). The government brings these workers over, their kids are born and raised in Israel, and then, periodically, there are moves to deport them, including the children, en masse, lest Israel’s Jewish majority be threatened by this non-Jews who want to make their lives here. Now the radio tells me, with cute jokes and all, that the government will pay farmers extra not to hire non-Israelis. I wonder (genuinely) if a farmer in, say, Umm al-Fahm can get financial benefits for employing Palestinian citizens of Israel? That’d be a cool campaign. Anyone know any Palestinian-citizen-of-Israel Farmer Activists?
I am sitting in the car and feeling afraid. This radio racism is so casual. And the advertisements are not over. The next one begins:
משהו טוב קורה בישראל! Something good is happening in Israel!
Oh dear lord I don’t even know if I want to know…
This one remained basically at that. Thank God. No “recycle and get a free house in Ariel!” But it also incorporates into my troubled polemic… A good thing is happening in Israel: Recycling. I know that there are a few other good things going on, too, on official levels. But some days, like yesterday, I get the feeling that most things coming out of official Israel are more along the lines of road races to commemorate advocates of ethnic cleansing and government subsidies for those who pledge to discriminate.