REPORT NO. 138
ISRAEL SHAHAK, 22 APRIL 1994
The Influence of Xenophobic Ideologies on the Israeli Jews
In report 136 I quoted at length an outstanding Israeli social scientist, Baruch Kimmerling ("Haaretz", 21 January, 1994) discussing potentialities of a civil war between the two camps of Israeli Jewish society. Kimmerling observed that for Gush Emunim the settlements aim "at spreading to and thus absorbing the secular population of the State of Israel in their concept of the collective Jewish identity as religious, ethnocentric and programmatically anti-liberal and anti- universalist. Within this concept democracy can be tolerated only as long as it fosters the Divine Jewish Kingdom. Any values discrepant with ‘Jewish values’ which alone have absolute validity are to be suppressed". Moreover, Kimmerling wrote that "between 1974 and 1992 Gush Emunim managed to surround itself with a periphery of supporters with varying degrees of commitment and contact. Its greatest achievement was its quite extensive influence on Israeli-Jewish Culture and collective identity, whose concepts became with time more and more ethnocentric". Another factor which in Kimmerling’s view increases the likelihood of a civil war is the fact that Gush Emunim has managed to acquire "a territorial base of its own, and expertise in handling weapons and executing quasi-military operations". Incidentally, my report 135 contained similar arguments. However, Gush Emunim’s political power can be presumed to derive not only from its own resources, or of those of its Israeli supporters who fully adhere to its ideology. Their power has two additional Sources: the spread of ethnocentric and xenophobic views, especially of the hatred of Arabs, among the Israeli Jewish masses and the penetration of the Israeli Security System, Le. the army and various Intelligence branches by Gush Emunim members and supporters. This report will be devoted to discussion of two latter factors. As such, it can be seen as a sequel of reports 135 and 136.
All the polls taken after Goldstein’s massacre have shown that while the approval of that massacre was in the Israeli Jewish society on the whole quite considerable, some population subgroups have approved it more and some less. An expertly poll taken ten days after the massacre by Eliyahu Hassin for "Shishi" and published on March 11 used a representative sample of all Israeli adults, which means that it included the Arab holders of Israeli citizenship. The respondents could choose between three options: justifying the massacre, "understanding" it without justifying, and condemning it in no uncertain terms. The first two answers were categorized jointly and thus contrasted with clear condemnations. (The remainder needed to add up to 100 percent stands for those who refused to answer or had no opinion.) The national average was: justifying 6%; understanding 30%; not condemning 36%; condemning 63%. Since the answers of the Arabs, who constitute about 14.5% of Israeli adults, were predictable, we can infer that about 40% of Israeli Jews either justified or at least "understood" Goldstein’s massacre. This is the point of departure for this report and it probably should be a point of departure for any serious analysis of Israeli Jewish attitudes. As mentioned, the poll breakdowns showed that those responses varied significantly between various segments of the population. The most meaningful was in my view the variation between the younger and the older age cohorts. In the age cohort 18-29 8% were found to justify the massacre; 35% to understand it; (Le. 43% did not condemn it), and only 56% condemned it, which means that overt or covert approval for the massacre was higher than in the national average. By contrast, in the age cohort 50-65 only 3% were found to justify it; 18% to understand it; (Le. 21%; did not condemn it), whereas as many as 78%, (which means much more than in the national average) did condemn it. The breakdown by age shows that on issues involving the Palestinians in the Territories the Israeli attitudes tend to get increasingly tough with the lapse of time. Incidentally, on issues not directly involving the Palestinians in the Territories, like the freedom of Israeli press, the younger Israelis turn out to be more liberal than the elderly.
Although Israelis below 18 were recently not polled, the descriptions of their views and attitudes had abounded in the last decade. Those descriptions make it clear that xenophobic attitudes tend to be at their highest among the youth aged 14-18. Indisputably, the major reason for this is the character of Jewish education in Israel. Jewish high school students from largest Israeli cities interviewed by "Yediot Ahronot" correspondents (March 2) displayed such xenophobic attitudes in abundance. Ronit Antler, who summarized those interviews, compared them with comments of top echelon Israeli educators. Thus "Joe Kolodner, the head of the Education Ministry’s Psychological Service, said that ‘Israeli society undergoes a deep crisis if after 45 years [of statehood] a generation appeared which believes that what happened in Hebron was O.K. ‘By contrast, the General Director of the Education Ministry, Shimshon Shoshani, remained unimpressed. ‘I haven’t yet heard that the students approved of the massacre. Most students in this country behave maturely’. Antler comments that visits to schools around the country revealed that many students did denounce the murder, but also that many others did not have any hesitation to profess their solidarity with the murderer. The common argument in support of the latter attitude is: ‘Since they kill us, why shouldn’t we kill them?’"
Here are some specifics of the interviews and their setting. "Municipal High School A is an average Tel-Aviv school. The school is integrated, in that it contains students from all social strata. It is located on the boundary dividing the northern [wealthy] from the southern [poor] parts of the city. Most of its students denounced the murder, but refused to feel sorry about it. They were by no means shocked. Usually they avoided calling it ‘murder’ or ‘massacre’, preferring instead expressions such as: ‘the event’, ‘the incident’, or ‘that thing which happened in Hebron’.
"Yesterday, during the afternoon recess, the students assembled in [discussion] groups. They were sitting on the floor, smoking cigarettes, eating sandwiches and arguing. Miri, from grade 11: ‘Murder is a terrible thing. Every murder should be denounced. Both by Arabs and by Jews. It’s too bad that the extremists on both sides are wrecking the peace process. I offer my condolences to the Arabs’. But Oded from the same grade was more annoyed by the ‘all-out vilification of Jewish residents of Kiryat Arba’. He said: ‘They are falling prey to all that talk about evacuation. Those people chose to live there, they have a splendid ideology. The minute Arafat called off the talks on the ground that he didn’t receive a satisfactory compensation for what happened in Hebron, I came to the conclusion that no Arabs really want peace. Hamas keeps assaulting us, yet we don’t call off the peace process. Once again this shows that no Arabs can be trusted’. Rotem, also from grade 11, refused to empathize with the Arabs. ‘It is hard for me to mourn their dead. It is difficult for me to identify with their grief. Now can one compare what happened on Friday with Hamas murders. Hamas murders individuals whereas in Hebron a filthy mass murder was committed’. Ayelet from grade 11 admitted openly: ‘It aggrieves me much more when a Jew is killed than when a Gentile is. But what Goldstein did is now going to lead to a chain of murders of Jews’. Nadav believed that Goldstein had succeeded: "He wanted to wreck the peace process and this is exactly what is now happening. This is why I denounce the murder’. Edo: ‘The whole thing is an embarrassment, but under the circumstances the murder was justified. It should not be condemned. Killing the Jews has become an everyday routine. Just a week ago the Arabs murdered a pregnant Jewish woman’. But Shira was shocked: ‘How can you talk like this? That affair should be condemned as inhuman. It should be condemned just like the murder of a pregnant woman and of an old Jew in Kfar Saba’. But Lior from grade 12 could not understand what all the furor was about: ‘What he did was O.K. Too bad he didn’t have more grenades to throw them and kill more Arabs. That’s what should have been done. This state belongs to the Jews and to them alone. I esteem Goldstein for what he did. The Talmud says: "When someone comes to kill you, hurry to kill him first". All the Arabs want to kill us.’ Yael opposed Lior firmly. ‘I do not want us to be like the Arabs. They murder us, but this doesn’t mean that we must murder them. One murder leads to the next"’.
In the rather poor city of Be’er Sheva, where veteran "Oriental" Jews and recent immigrants from the former USSR together amount to about 80% of the population, the opinions tended to be more extremist than in Tel Aviv. "In one of the larger Be’er Sheva high schools a teacher said that after questioning one of her classes, she was surprised to find over 60% of her students approving of the massacre. 10% were critical of the fact that the murder had taken place in a mosque which is a holy site, but they refused to condemn it anyway. (In another Be’er Sheva high school a grade 12 student, Gadi Baranes said: ‘Goldstein should have done it in a market, in a street, at workplace, but not in a place of worship’.) Those denouncing Goldstein were very few in number: below 10%. But a large proportion of students refused to take sides. The teacher said: ‘I was in shock. This was a class of outstanding students, capable of expressing themselves and of explaining their views. Some were new immigrants [from the former USSR], and they leaned toward extremism. The main argument of those who approved of Goldstein was: ‘We need to be realistic. That’s the only language, which the Arabs understand. So far they have murdered us and we have said nothing. The Arabs must finally understand that those among us fed up with the daily killings of the Jews can murder them as well. Besides, why is it being said that murder victims were innocent? Don’t they murder innocent people too?’ But two new immigrant students told the teacher: ‘We can only conclude that there is no law and order in Israel. This is high time that people take the law into their own hands. The way Goldstein did it. He punished the Arabs in a way the government should have punished them long ago"’.
Here are three statements from another high school in the same city. "Lior Misha’li from grade 12 didn’t hesitate to be blunt: ‘I feel pleased about what Goldstein did. I have been happy ever since. They are making a fuss because he killed 60 of them with one stroke, but they kill one or two of us every day or every two days. That’s the difference between us and them. The way I see it, dozens of the thus liquidated Arabs could now be replaced by the Jewish unemployed in dozens of jobs’. Netan’el Zvilli from grade 12, (a cousin of Nissim ZVilli, the General Secretary of the Labor party) said: ‘I do not approve of what Goldstein did, but I wouldn’t say it was a tragedy. There is no reason for making a fuss about it. Let’s not forget that since the agreement with the PLO they have not stopped murdering us. That means that none of them really are for peace. Perhaps Goldstein overreacted, perhaps he killed a little bit too many, but even in that case it wasn’t terrible’. The only Be’er Sheva student who could be found to condemn the massacre, Eyal Zeitun from grade 12, expressed himself as follows: ‘I am against this murder. It was inhuman. My greatest hope is to be soon enlisted in a combat unit. Then I am going to take care of the Arabs. I will kill plenty of Arab rabble and terrorists, but not worshippers in a mosque"’.
Since the "Yediot Ahronot" correspondents were not allowed to talk to students of religious high schools, the quoted reactions of the Tel Aviv and Be’er Sheva students can be presumed to represent the reported distribution of opinions of secular Israeli Jewish youth also from other cities. Some information about the views prevalent among students of religious high schools can nonetheless be found in an article by Yael Fishbein, a veteran education correspondent ("Davar", March 3). She believes that while "the education system provides the Israeli society with the best opportunity to counteract Kahanism and its mutations, for many years this opportunity has been deliberately wasted". She recalls on this occasion that already" 10 years ago the Supreme Court of Justice noted the amazing similarity between the ‘Kach’ program and the Nazi Nurenburg laws". Fishbein backs her case with an impressive amount of documentation. "The youth’s support for Kahane and his views is no news. The Van Leer Institute surveyed this phenomenon in the mid-1980s through the medium of the Dahaf Institute, to find that the percentage of Kahane supporters among the youth stood at about 9%, but when Kahane’s name was not mentioned, it climbed up to about 33% … But the Van Leer survey also showed that support of religious youth for Kahane was three times as large as that of secular youth, and that the former tended to profess that support in much more extremist terms, stressing explicitly such tenets of Kahanism as hatred of Arabs, the denial of their rights or the demand to expel them from the Land of Israel". Those findings sparked a quite extensive debate in the wake of which "the then Education minister, Yitzhak Navon [Labor], set up a unit for Education for Democracy and Jewish-Arab co-existence". However, "the religious Jewish community firmly opposed any education for democracy and co-existence in the name of the double standard prescribed by the Jewish religion between the attitudes towards the Jews and the Gentiles. This double standard applied with particular force against the Arabs whom many religious Jews perceived as the ‘offspring of Amalek’ which they were duty-bound to exterminate". This is why they have opposed education for democracy and co-existence not only in their own schools, but also in secular ones. As usual, the Labor party yielded to pressures of the religious parties, with the effect that "the established unit remained very small, with paltry budgets". Moreover, "the religious education took advantage of its legally guaranteed autonomy to announce that it would not tolerate any joint meetings of Jewish and Arab schoolchildren as transgressing Judaism". This announcement is still binding.
"The Education Ministry once again researched the attitudes of youth toward Kahanism in 1990, through a survey carried out by Prof. Ze’ev Ben-Sira. Support for Kahanism was then found to have increased. 39% of surveyed youths said that they identified or agreed with Kahane’s views. When Kahane’s name was not mentioned, support for his ideas climbed. 66% either supported or strongly supported ‘encouraging the Arab residents of the Territories to emigrate’. 53% supported ‘restricting the human rights of people who did not fulfill the duties of the state’s residents, such as military or national service’. The Ben-Sira survey also revealed an enormous difference between the attitude of secular and religious Jewish youths. The over-all percentage of those who expressed their preference for the domination of the Territories over the human rights was about 60%. But in the secular educational institutions the idea commanded the Support of only 35%, whereas in the religious ones of as many as 74%. In secular vocational schools (Le. attended mostly by children of parents with income below the average) 61% expressed that preference, whereas in the religious vocational schools 71%". In addition to documenting the formidable influence of Jewish religion upon the formation of xenophobic attitudes, the Ben-Sira survey noted the impact of poverty. This finding was recently corroborated by Hassin who found that respondents with income below the average justified Goldstein’s murder in 7%, "understood" it in 40% (Le. did not condemn it in 47%) and condemned it only in 51 %, whereas the respondents with income above the average justified it only in 4%; "understood" it in 20% (Le. did not condemn it in 24%) and condemned it in 75%. Fishbein adds that "the Education Ministry, headed by Zvulun Hammer [from National Religious Party], refrained from publicizing Ben-Sira’s findings. The excerpts from the Ben-Sira report cleared for publications were very selective: the selection having been biased to show the superiority of religious education in inculcating commitment to Zionism".
Jointly with plenty of other available data these findings show that Jewish religion and poverty (especially if caused by unemployment) are two major factors explaining Jewish chauvinism and Nazism. Far from ignoring either, I would attribute more importance to the influence of religion. This is at least a conclusion drawn by numerous surveys and other investigations researching the causes of Kahane’s election to the Knesset in 1984. It was then conclusively shown that vote for Kahane was the bulkiest in localities or neighborhoods which were religious and poor at the same time. Neither of those variables alone sufficed to explain massive vote for him. But jointly, these variables have a high correlative power: higher than that of any other variable. The silence of not a few "leftists", especially Jewish, about the influence of Jewish religion may be deliberate in their intention to conceal the truth. But it always strikes me as pernicious in its political effects. Incidentally, for all the difference between the conditions under which the Palestinians live as compared to the Jews, a combination of extreme poverty with religious influence appears to generate religious extremism among the former no less than among the latter.
The findings quoted by Fishbein concerning the difference between religious and secular students in their attitudes toward the Arabs have been confirmed by the poll of Jewish residents of Jerusalem ("Kol Ha’ir", September 24, 1993) investigating their attitudes toward the Oslo Agreement. Let me quote what I myself wrote about the latter in report 127. In accordance with the usual Israeli polling routine, each respondent was asked to identify himself as secular (who defies all or most commandments of Judaism), traditional (who observes only the more convenient among them), religious (who observes all commandments without renouncing the Western culture, except when it directly contradicts those commandments) or Haredi (the ultra-pious, who rejects all Western culture.) All four categories were then asked whether they support or oppose the Agreement. Without counting the undecided or those who refused to answer, the percentages were:
Since the Haredim usually don’t serve in the army, their opposition to the Agreement must be assumed to have little to do with the traumas of the Intifada or the possibility of a war. If anything, it is ascribable to their basic worldview.
But let me return to other findings quoted by Fishbein. "During the same period Dr. Ofra Meizlish and Dr. Reuven Gal [a former chief of the army’s Social Sciences Unit] surveyed the attitudes towards the Arabs in Jewish high schools. The findings were again discomfiting: 58% of religious and 35% of secular high school students said that they hated all the Arabs or most of them. To the question "to what extent would you like to wreak a vengeance on the Arabs?’ 76% of the religious youths replied that they had would like it much or very much. But the secular youths were not far behind, with about 61% replying likewise. In the same period of time professor Kalman Binyamini surveyed political and civic attitudes of [Jewish] youths in Jerusalem. 80% of his respondents agreed that ‘it would not be wrong if we goaded most Arabs to leaving Israel’. 62% agreed that ‘one could justify Jewish indiscriminate acts of vengeance when they are retaliations for Arab violence’.
But Fishbein also reports the findings of prestigious pollsters confirming the findings of education experts. "A survey of Mina Tzemah published in ‘Yediot Ahronot’, showed that 51% of young people favored ‘the deportation of all Arabs from Judea and Samaria’. The Education Ministry, however, was not overly concerned with such findings. It simply ignored them. After all, that Ministry’s higher-ranking staff was predominantly religious, and the minister was also religious. They feared to probe into their own political and educational attitudes. The Unit for Education for Democracy and Co-existence was therefore put on a back burner. True, there were some voluntary associations which undertook some worthy initiatives, but that was all".
Fishbein provides detailed information on how two consecutive Education ministers in Rabin’s government, Aloni and Rubinstein, both from Meretz, refused to do anything to change that state of affairs. They made all sorts of lofty declarations of their intentions and appointed various committees which still deliberate about what can be done about the steady growth of xenophobia in the Jewish educational system in Israel. Skipping her descriptions of their inactivity, let me only quote her conclusions. "The reality did not wait for the committee’s reports. The results of the poisoned Kahanist education slapped all of us in the face with indomitable force. The massacre in Hebron may have been a product of a pervert mind, but the approval of that massacre has been more widespread than anyone in the government would be willing to admit … Israeli society is plagued by some of the most terrible social malignancies of the 20th century: racism, hatred, dehumanization and apologetics for killing of people called the Arabs. At this time our educational system is in the hands of a Meretz minister who sits idly and keeps pretending that everything is O.K."
The pernicious influence of Jewish religious education was also discussed by another veteran education correspondent, Nilli Mandler ("Haaretz", April 5). She reports that religious Jewish educators recently began to use the term "Amalek" as referring to "all Gentiles who can be presumed to hurt the Jews". As an example, she quotes a new book "Adey Ad" ["Forever and Ever"] authored by Dr. Dov Ehrlich, which contains "essays in education and philosophy" published by the autonomous Department of Religious Education in the Education ministry for the use by its teachers. Since the Bible study is a central subject in religious education, both teachers and their students can be presumed to know the Biblical verses commanding the Jews to exterminate the Amalekites, e.g. "now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass" (I Samuel, Chapter 15, verse 3). But Ehrlich continues: "Amalekites can be now found allover the world, but especially within the borders of the Greater Land of Israel which the Lord, blessed be His Name, gave to us the Jews. The Amalekites are fated to hate us forever and ever, so we are justly commanded to hate them twice as strongly. The Bible commanded us to exterminate the Amalekites. Just as we obeyed the command by exterminating the ancient Amalek, we now must do the same to the modern Amalek".
As Mandler informs us, in the preface to the quoted book, "the director of the autonomous Religious Education Department, Mattay Dagan, stresses the relevance of the issues discussed in the book to the present time, due to which ‘the problems it so sagaciously raises will enrich the thought of the educators and school headmasters’. Dr. Ehrlich himself explains that ‘it is always important to disclose where the hatred of the nations toward the Jews comes from. But the hatred of modern Amalekites toward the Jews cannot be logically explained, because they suck it with their mothers’ milk. Such hatred toward the Jews can be contested only by our reciprocal hatred toward them’. In his Biblical quotations and commentary, Dr. Ehrlich does not neglect to emphasize the verbs, like to exterminate, to destroy, to raze from the earth’s surface, etc., But his intellectual exertions climax with the Talmudic quotation defining the term "Amalek" as ‘a nation which, like dogs, wants to lick Jewish blood’. This fact, contends Dr. Ehrlich, frees us from the need to justify our hatred of them. He just wants to provide the religious educators with ‘ammunition against the counterclaims raised by hypocritical or do-gooding Jews against the truth".
Mandler is perfectly right in commenting that this recent book follows in the footsteps of a similar literature published earlier by the same autonomous Religious Education Department. She says that all this literature "has commended all Jewish conquests and the settling of the conquered territories when located within the borders of the Land of Israel as demarcated according to the Bible by God, whose promise should turn into reality now". I can only comment that such borders contain a territory much larger than that which presently falls under Israeli rule. "Such publications also staunchly oppose any contacts between Jewish students and teachers and their Arab colleagues (even those holding Israeli citizenship), on the presumption that such contacts cannot but foster Jewish assimilation. They also propose to solve the Arab problem either by converting the Arabs to Judaism en masse or by goading them into emigration. A book supposed to teach the citizenship duties claims not only that a Palestinian nation has never existed, but also that it will never exist unless treacherous Jews help create it".
Mandler also shows how two formerly separate and even mutually hostile Jewish religious education networks, the autonomous but still belonging to the state, and the totally independent, managed by the ultra-pious Haredim, are now coordinating their endeavors. Coordination between them has already produced a book for religious teachers which posits the construction of the Third Temple as an urgent necessity, and "notes with astonishment that instead of building it, the Jews who returned to their own land didn’t even put at the top of their priorities the purification of the Temple Mount from the abominations now standing there" [Le. the Dome of the Rock and the AI-Aksa mosque]. This coordination of educational efforts can be understood as by-product of the formation of the "Hardelim", the Haredi-nationalist bloc, as mentioned in report 136. I would anticipate a repeat of the 1984 attempt to demolish the Temple Mount mosques as a near-inevitable effect of the politics of education under this discussion.
Mandler does acknowledge the existence of a tiny minority of religious educators committed to the cause of peace, but she deplores their weakness. She says that Meretz ministers of Education have on purpose ignored the activities of the autonomous Department of Religious Education in their ministry. "In any event", says Mandler, "there was nothing much that they could do", since the Department’s autonomy was guaranteed by the law. Nevertheless they didn’t want to raise the issue of changing the law, because the disputes over this matter were apt to undermine the peace process. Hence Jewish religious education in Israel remains under control of Gush Emunim acting through the medium the National Religious Party". I can only add that students and teachers of this education system are regularly attending anti-government demonstrations which often turn violent. Such attendance is formally prohibited by the Education ministry regulations, but the weak and inept Labor-Meretz government keeps trying to propitiate the most extremist rabbis, and is consequently afraid even to mention that its regulations are being breached in the open. Right after the Oslo Agreement, during the period of fake euphoria, some observers like Ya’akov Hasday (quoted in report 127 of October 10, 1993) claimed that diplomatic tricks were no substitute for a hard effort of affecting public opinion and hence Israeli Jewish politics, and that such an effort must precede any meaningful peace. The just discussed evidence proves them right.
Of interest to this discussion is also the Hassin poll’s correlation between attitudes toward Goldstein’s massacre and extraction as measured by the difference between the Jews "born in Israel of Oriental parents", and "born in Israel of European parents". The former justified the massacre in 9%; "understood" it in 41%; (Le. did not condemn it in 50%) and condemned it in 49%; whereas the latter justified the massacre in 2%; "understood" it in 18%; (Le. did not condemn it in 20%) and condemned it in 78%. The correlation is by all means high, and most polls investigating the impact of extraction upon political attitudes come out with similar findings. On closer examination, however, strong grounds appear for dismissing this correlation as spurious, explainable by the already discussed poverty and religion factors. With income level held constant (e.g. by surveying or polling middle class or academic respondents of "Oriental" extraction), the initial correlation tends to disappear. In other words, it can be shown that "Oriental" Jews tend to discard their xenophobia when they cease to be poor, along with discarding tribal atavism of their forebears when they become secular. The transition from religiosity (defined as strict observance of Jewish Orthodoxy including its tenets regarding the Gentiles), to a mere "traditionalism", (defined as selective observance of the same) may not be decisive, but adoption of a secular worldview has been shown to obliterate all statistical differences between Jews of whichever extraction. The only exception from this rule are the recent Jewish immigrants from the former USSR. Having lived all their life under the communist regime, they tend to retain their secularism, but together with pronounced xenophobia and especially with hatred of the Arabs. I am not going to back those contentions by quoting specific evidence, whether to the effect of the mentioned spurious correlation or to the effect of the Soviet Jews being an exception. But I do want to continue discussing the "Orientals".
There are two conflicting dogmas on the subject of the "Oriental" xenophobia as supposedly more pronounced than that of the Ashkenazis. Both dogmas are fairly widespread but neither has any validity. The first dogma is that for whatever reasons the "Orientals" hate the Arabs much more intensely than the Ashkenazis would be capable of. The second dogma is a specialty of the PLO and various "leftist" circles. It holds that the "Orientals" really like the Arabs or even regard themselves as "Arabs by culture" or as "Arabs of Jewish faith", but have been brainwashed by the Israeli government or some other recondite power to hate the Arabs. As I see it, loathing the Gentiles is a fundamental tenet of the Jewish religion, and it is common to all Jews as long as they remain religious. A substantial proportion of the Ashkenazis have forsaken the Jewish religion, whereas among the "Orientals" that proportion has been much smaller, especially until they arrived in Israel. Undoubtedly, the bulk of the "Oriental" Jews hated the Arabs (or the Iranians, or any other nation in the midst of which they happened to live before immigrating to Israel), because most of them were religious. This attitude has been retained in Israel, but rather because remaining religious has meant following Judaism’s laws, beliefs and traditions.
Curiously, the "Orientals" may loathe the Arabs while loving their language or folklore. But this also happens elsewhere in the world. In Israel there are many "Orientals", usually quite traditional in their outlook, who would love Arab culture (although often only its superficial aspects like cuisine, popular music, etc.), and even highly appreciate what they would call "Arab mentality" (supposed to be antithetical to "European mentality"), and at the same time hate the Arabs viciously and advocate all kinds of barbarities as the "right" way of dealing with them, on the ground that they alone "know the Arabs". I would not dignify such popular beliefs by naming them "an ideology", but the political impact of those beliefs is in Israel tremendous: not only because of their social influence, also upon the Ashkenazis, but primarily because a lot of such "Orientals" serve the Israeli Security System as "experts on Arabs" and can thus shape Israeli policies.
The best case in point of the impact of such beliefs upon policy- making is the person of Ben-Zion Alkalay, the author of a collection of over 4,300 Palestinian proverbs, which the author assiduously collected while working 55 years for Haganah and Israeli intelligence. He advanced to a high-ranking post in the Military Administration of the West Bank and subsequently became a lecturer in "Arab mentality" for Israeli army officers and ranking Shabak agents. He began his career while attending a Catholic Arab school "Terra Sancta" in Jerusalem, where he spied on both his teachers and schoolmates. After his book appeared, he was respectfully interviewed in "Kol Ha’ir" (August 20, 1993) and "Yediot Ahronot" (August 2 7, 1993). In those interviews, Alkalay professes his love for Arab food, folklore, folk music and other Customs with all the extravagance possible. When asked by an Ashkenazi "Yediot" interviewer, Yaron London, "and given your unbounded attachment to Arab language and Arab folklore, what’s your opinion about the Arabs as individuals?" Alkalay answered: "I find no difficulty in reconciling the love of Arab language and folklore with mortal hatred of the Arabs.
I know it better than you can possibly do, that you can never make any deal with an Arab. I will never trust any Arab, even though I do have more Arab than Jewish friends. I kiss these Arab friends of mine, but I never believe a single word they tell me. All of them are about to betray me. I know them and their mentality, and hence I know that an Arab who will not deceive me has not yet been born. An Arab begins to lie already in his mother’s womb". London comments: "I failed to find anything that could somehow qualify his sweeping generalizations".
To "Kol Ha’ir" interviewer, Yossi Cohen, Alkalay provided a "substantiation" of his view why the Arabs cannot be trusted. They cannot be trusted because they are Gentiles about whom a Jewish proverb says: "Don’t trust a Gentile even when he has already lain 40 years in his grave". Among the "Oriental" Jews the proverb is indeed common, although Yiddish folklore contains similar proverbs. Yet Alkalay adds a qualification to Cohen. No Gentiles can be trusted, but "an Arab is a special kind of creature. He differs from other Gentiles. In addition to his untrustworthiness he changes his opinions twice a week".
Interestingly, Alkalay shares an opinion held by some Arab intellectuals. The opinion is that the conflict between Israel and the Arabs cannot be resolved because the rulers of Israel have absorbed the "European mentality" which precludes their "understanding" of "Arab mentality". Alkalay ascribes the "weakness" of Begin and Dayan in making peace with Egypt and of Shamir and Arens in consenting to the Madrid Conference to their not following the expertise of "Arab knowers" like himself. Failures of Shabak in dealing with Palestinians are attributed by Alkalay to tender-heartedness of its Ashkenazi interrogators, who do not know that Arabs need to be knocked mercilessly. Only those who "know" the Arabs are fit to interrogate them properly, enunciates Alkalay. But due to their ignorance of "Arab nature", the Shabak Ashkenazi interrogators are also making another mistake. They cannot understand that the best way to beat Palestinians is with the indigenous bludgeon [called "nabut"], rather than with a standard mass-produced police club used by the Israeli army, which according to Alkalay the Arabs "fail to respect". I can only say that I myself have heard similar views since the late 1940s, and so I know that no one who mixes with crowds in an Israeli city can avoid listening to them even now.
So far I have discussed Israeli Jewish xenophobia, as a popular culture trait, whose political impact, although considerable, remains indirect. But by virtue of the penetration of the Israeli Security System by the religious settlers and their sympathizers, the political impact of their culture becomes direct. The extent of this penetration in at least some branches of the Israeli army has recently been estimated by a number of articles. Danny Rubinstein ("Haaretz", March 16) cogently observes that although formally it is the army which rules the Territories, yet by virtue of dominating the army the "extremist settlers" have already become "the real masters of the West Bank and Gaza Strip long ago". His ample exemplification of this state of affairs includes the following facts: "The army authorities believe that both the Israeli left and the Hebrew press correspondents serve the interests of ‘the Arab enemy’. This is why whenever Possible, the commanders of the Israeli army do not spare efforts to deny them access to any place in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip … This state of affairs was created by the settlers who had gradually managed to penetrate more and more effectively the entire Security System in the Territories". (By using the term "Security System", Rubinstein apparently means to say that the settlers have penetrated the Shabak as well.) "The settlers have achieved a status equivalent to the soldiers … The army passes on to them all recent intelligence and lets them freely and uncontrollably enter every security command in the Territories … It will not be an exaggeration to say that under such circumstances the settlers have acquired a status of the real masters of the Territories. They tend to treat the Israeli army as present in the Territories solely in order to serve them. In many respects the settlers can be said to have indeed succeeded to turn the Israeli army into a tool defending them not only from the Arab enemy but also from any Jew whom they suspect of abetting that enemy, in the first place from the so-called "hostile Hebrew media" and the Israeli left. Even the Civil Administration which is supposed to serve the interests of the Arabs is quite often forced to perform as the settlers demand".
Alon Hadar ("Kol Ha’ir", March 18) provides some information about the Israeli army’s Regional Defense Division of the West Bank, comprised of reservist settlers but commanded by career officers, who often live in extremist settlements. One of them, "major Israel Blumenthal, a battalion commander of Hebron settler reservists (who lives in Kiryat Arba) was interviewed on Channel I of the Israeli TV … The interview climaxed with Blumenthal’s impassioned defense of the mass murderer Baruch Goldstein, whom he called ‘a soldier who fell in combat"’. In spite of public protests, and in spite of the Chief of Staffs lies to the effect of his having been "suspended", Blumenthal continues to serve at his post. But Hadar says more: "Independently of the settler- officers, every settlement has its Coordinator of Military Security (CMS), acting under the command of a given Regional Defense officer. Although civilians, the CMSs have to comply with the military law, and their salaries are paid by the Israeli army through the medium of their settlement. Nominally, the CMSs are not allowed to participate in politics: actually most of them not only attend the demonstrations, but also engage in illegal acts such as blocking Palestinian traffic on highways or vandalizing Palestinian property. Few weeks ago the Israeli army explicitly prohibited the CMSs from participating in the illegal ‘Proliferate the Settlements’ operation. Yet many ignored the prohibition and the army ignored their disobedience.
"The Judea and Samaria Division is comprised of several brigades. Each brigade has a reservist battalion of Regional Defense [comprised of the settlers] and army battalions attached to it for a period of time. The reservist battalions are commanded by professional army officers, subordinate to the Divisional Regional Defense commander, colonel Shlomo. In addition to their military duties, those officers serve as the Israeli army’s liaison men with the settlers. They often visit the CMSs in their settlements, and contact them with higher-ranking officers … The Regional Defense officers are also responsible for the politically highly sensitive task of distributing more Israeli army weapons to settlements and individual settlers".
More information about these weapons is provided by Yanki Galanty, writing in "Bemahane", (March 2), the official biweekly of the Israeli army. Galanty describes the settlement of Levonah "inhabited by several dozen Jewish families. It was provided by the [Israeli] army with the following semi-heavy weapons: several machine guns 0,3; one semi-heavy machine gun 0,5; one mortar 52 and one mortar 81". Possession and skillful use of such weapons will enable every tiniest settlement to withstand an attack of hundreds of assaulters armed only with light weapons, such as automatic guns.
"Those weapons", continues Galanty, "Supplement the light personal weapons, such as Uzzis, M-16s and Kalachnikov [automatic] guns, which almost all Levonah’s inhabitants had received from the Israeli army already before. In addition to these, every male inhabitant of Levonah has a revolver of his own, not necessarily of the same brand, with which he never parts. This relatively small settlement can therefore be considered to be equipped with a by no means negligible firepower. Those weapons are an important, but far from the only one, component of security provided by the Israeli army to all Jewish settlements in the Territories … The army has also other methods to bolster military strength of the settlements. A category of ‘security means’ provided by the army to the settlements includes inter alia the jeeps, communication equipment, a network of security fences and their illumination, along with other equipment. This equipment is intended to let every settlement cope with any potential security problem. All civilian settlers are organized in military detachments devised to let them respond instantly to a terrorist assault or any other military emergency".
It can be seen that apart from penetrating the army the settlers also wield a far from negligible military power of their own. The extent of this penetration of Shabak can be estimated only indirectly. A few weeks ago, after the Shabak coordinator (Le. commander) of the Ramallah district, Noam Cohen, was killed by Hamas guerillas, his name was provided and his parents were interviewed. The interviews revealed that he had been deeply religious and that he had regarded his service in Shabak, and before this in the top elite unit of the Israeli army, "The General Staff Patrol", as a sacred duty. Moreover, he was told by his spiritual mentors that if he gets killed while serving in Shabak, he would attain martyrdom and his soul would receive instant accommodation in the place of honor in the Jewish paradise, just beneath God’s Throne. His pious father, Dr. Yehezkel Cohen, a well-known religious educator told the press that this must have actually happened. Returning to more mundane matters, Dr. Cohen told the press that his son had often assured him that Shabak activities were perfectly humane and beneficent to the Arabs, and that Jews "who slander Shabak" were traitors. Some Ramallah inhabitants appear to hold views similar to Dr. Cohen, except in respect to things mundane. After one of Noam Cohen’s assaulters was killed by the Israeli army, the assaulter’s father told a Hebrew paper that it was his martyred son who was in Paradise, since he had "relieved Ramallah’s inhabitants from a despot terrifying everybody". It appears that a holy war is waged in the West Bank in which Shabak, penetrated by Jewish religious zealots, is hardly different from Hamas.
More facts concerning the penetration of the army by Jewish religious fanatics have appeared in Avirama Golan’s article ("Haaretz", April 5), bearing the title "When lots of colonels wear a skullcap". The article discusses the role of the "Hesder" [Arrangement] Yeshivot in the Israeli army. The arrangement works as follows: Some Yeshivot agree with the army contractually that their students are to serve under conditions involving some autonomy from the army. They are drafted separately to serve in units of their own for half a year, followed by a half year of Talmudic studies. This alternation between 6 months of army service and studies of Talmud continues for 4 years, which means that "Hesder" soldiers effectively serve in the army only 2 years instead of 3 as all other draftees. Each such unit has its own rabbi, whom its commanding officer is obliged to consult before making any decision. The army consented to this arrangement with enthusiasm, because otherwise Yeshiva students would not serve at all, and also because they had proved themselves as excellent and dedicated soldiers, who pray and often dance before being sent on a dangerous assignment. During the war in Lebanon "Hesder" units suffered much heavier casualties than any other units of the Israeli army, and their battle conduct became notorious for bravery to the point of recklessness and for cruelty. At least on one occasion they were reported to have chopped off the ears of their victims.
Golan quotes Rabbi Hayim Drukman, one of the extremist Gush Emunim leaders, who heads a "Hesder" Yeshiva and lauds the institution extravagantly. But Golan also quotes the renowned researcher of the Israeli religious community, professor Menahem Friedman, who himself is religious, but liberal in his political beliefs. Friedman views with trepidation the growing numbers and growing role of "Hesder" Yeshiva soldiers in the army, especially since most of their rabbis are affiliated with Gush Emunim. He says: "Rabbinical extremism, which nowadays is so common, has an increasing clout upon national-religious youth. It is not clear whether this trend can be reversed, and what extremes can it yet reach. No rabbi has so far dared to halt this surge toward extremism. Let it be borne in mind that many "Hesder" Yeshiva soldiers remain in the army after completing their compulsory service. Many become officers advancing up to the colonel’s rank. Let us not forget that military coups in other countries were usually hatched by colonels … The combat troops of the Israeli army nowadays abound not only with colonels but also of battalion and company commanders affiliated with Gush Emunim. All of them unconditionally accept the authority of their former Yeshiva Heads. They represent a new variety of religious Jew who solicits a rabbinical ruling on every conceivable matter and who then accepts it as irrevocable … The calamitous fact that Gush Emunim has its own army within the Israeli army can already be noticed. Golan also quotes Yizhar Be’er, an author who, although religious, supports Labor. He told her that "ten years ago, I alone advised the army that unless it disbands the "Hesder" Yeshivot at once, their units, for example Armored, would be all too likely to use their tanks in order to besiege the Knesset and seize it". Neither Be’er nor Friedman, however, expect the army or the present government to pay any heed to their forewarnings.
But religious penetration of the army can assume other forms as well. Dvora Shapira ("Maariv", April 15) interviewed leaders of the mighty youth movement "Bney Akiva", affiliated with National Religious Party (see report 136 for description of a pilgrimage of their delegation to Hebron). One of them, Danny Hershberg, says with pride: "We are educating our youth from the age of ten as future combat soldiers". Due to such brainwashing it turns out that many religious youngsters refuse to join the "Hesder" Yeshivot because they are too militaristically- minded to tolerate any interruptions in their compulsory army service.
Obliging to this mood, the army finances 7 "pre-military religious colleges", 5 of them located in the West Bank. Enrollment in such a college entitles the religious youth to a draft deferment for one year. But during that year the college boys receive for a very low fee a military training qualifying them for admission to an officer course or an elite unit right upon being drafted. Tough military training in those colleges goes together with Talmudic studies "which emphasize how highly is the army esteemed by Judaism". Both study programs together "occupy the students for at least 14 hours every day", which is, I presume, optimal to make brainwashing really efficient.
Since the kibbutzim have been long engaged in similar efforts to penetrate the army. Shapira also talked with heads of the United Kibbutz Movement. They boasted about how high was proportion of kibbutz members in the combat units and officer corps of the army, and especially among the "Mista’aravim". Upon hearing this, Shapira expressed her fears that "this might lead to a clash between the left and the religious within the army". I cannot but share those fears.
The described state of affairs within the army can allow us to better understand also Kimmerling’s fears as voiced in an article whose conclusions I have already presented in report 136 ("Haaretz", April 6). In that article, Kimmerling notes that "in the last 20 years the officer corps of the Israeli army has undergone tremendous changes". One change was that the career of an officer became very appealing, as it secured handsome income in addition to high social prestige. It thus became particularly appealing for "the fast growing ‘Oriental’ middle class which treated that career as a major springboard of their upward social mobility". The result was that the army officer corps became gradually filled with entrants from this social background, who 20 years earlier had hardly been represented there. I would slightly qualify Kimmerling’s observation, to the effect that young "Orientals" joining the officer corps tended to sprout from the lower middle class. But as Kimmerling points out, the next wave of entrants was the "national-religious youth", more and more so as time was lapsing and as the support from the settler dominated Regional Defense Division of the West Bank was growing. Both the national-religious and the settler soldiers derived lots of benefits from the Cooperation between the army and the settlers. Both are regarded by Kimmerling as components of "the religious-settler military infrastructure, whose behavior at a time of political crisis is unpredictable. The settlers have a militia, well equipped with lawfully acquired weapons, and highly skilled in their use. Its commanders are politically sophisticated. It is this segment of society which poses the mightiest challenge to the legal authority of the State of Israel and to its army’s high command".
It is symptomatic of the abysmally poor quality of reporting on Israeli affairs, (inferior even to reporting on the Territories), that none of the facts discussed in this report, or report 136, has filtered as yet to the Western "experts on Israeli affairs" or to the Western media, including the quality press. Instead, both the experts and the media keep preoccupying themselves with diplomatic trivia of "the peace process". I can only conclude by stating with all the firmness that for the Israelis (and for all the Middle Easterners for that matter) nothing can be more important than the looming clash between Jewish supporters and opponents of religious zealotry.