A few years ago, Israel began building a wall to keep suicide bombers out. The thinking being that if most Palestinians were on the other side, the country would be safe. Obviously, that has failed but something else happened when that wall went up.
It seems Israel as a country walled in their thinking and attitudes. They have increasingly steeped themselves in the belief the world is against them and any rebuke represents anti-semitism – because you know, Israel could never be wrong. They have tossed freedom aside (I’m not sure you can call Israel a true democracy at this point with the current repression going on) to uphold the xenophobia that has ruled the country for most of the past 20 years. This week, another step in that march to total totalitarianism was taken.
The city of Jerusalem has decided there should be no Christian events allowed in the city without approval of Jewish rabbis. No conventions. No tourist conferences or gatherings despite the fact the city is holy to Christians and tourism is a major part of the economy. I’m not sure there is a more corrupt group in Israel, outside Russian mobs, than the rabbis. The number of rabbis guilty of bribes, child molestation, rape, assault etc. literally fills a prison all to itself. The only way a Christian event will happen now is if the kickback is large enough.
This follows on the heels of the week before when the Israeli government began considering plans to make all NGO’s in the country were ID badges in public. Now, if there is any group that should understand the ominous nature of a group being singled out by badges in public, you would think it would be Jews. But again, I go back to that wall which seems to stop the brain cells from connecting with common sense.
Also in the last couple weeks, the Israeli government decided to defund any cultural groups that include Arabs. There was a major boycott of the Jerusalem film festival by Israeli artists when the government stepped in and prevented a film about Rabin’s assassin – because it put the violent nature of the settlers in the spotlight – from being shown. This as artists critical of Israel are prevented from entering the country now and often face arrest when they try.
The country operates some segregated buses and trains – men and women can’t mix. There has been racial violence against Ethiopians. For years, Ethiopians and Africans were attacked in the open with police standing by but now they are fighting back, something the Israeli establishment never expected. It is not unusual for women artists like singers to have part of their audience walk out on them because a large portion of the country doesn’t think women should sing in public. The thinking is archaic at best.
Israel doesn’t face increasing pressure from the outside only because it refuses to engage in a peace process but also because it has traded freedom and democracy for old fashion stupidity and a turn to theocracy that will be doomed to fail. If the pork eating Ben Gurion could jump out of his grave, I’m pretty sure he’d rear his fiery head at Netanyahu for allowing the country to slip backwards so he could line his own pockets.
I don’t know what that wall did to Israel’s collective thinking but I wish someone would take it down. Then the country might reconnect with the logic it once prized and the grace which use to shine from its shores.