Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Matter of Culture

The New York Times awarded a mark of distinction to Nimrod Aloni, the head of the Institute for Educational Thought at a Tel Aviv teachers college, when it quoted him from his appearance on Geula Even’s post-hard news interview and discussion program on Channel One television on Monday, August 20.  

A part of what he said was “this [the beating] cannot just be an expression of something he has heard at home…This is directly tied to national fundamentalism that is the same as the rhetoric of neo-Nazis, Taliban and K.K.K..”  He added,  “This comes from an entire culture that has been escalating toward an open and blunt language based on us being the chosen people who are allowed to do whatever we like.”

But the full content of that portion of his interview should be quoted:

Nimrod Aloni: “…there is a radicalization and escalation of so-called hate crimes, the so-called crimes of racism, which is what I did hear on the way over that the fellow justifies lynches and terrorism against Arabs - and there are at present almost daily terrorist attacks against Arabs – and he justifies what was done as it’s worth is to save lives. Now this is not connected to his home, and not solely to the educational systems, it's about Israeli culture in which nationalism becomes xenophobic chauvinism, in which religion adopts a façade not of ‘its ways are pleasant’ but of extremism, violence, fundamentalism, and we see a language exactly like the neo-Nazis in Europe, the Ku-Klux-Klan in America, the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Geula Even: just a moment, are you not exaggerating a bit.
Aloni: No, no, no…
Even: Look, this boy is fifteen and a half, what we see now is the result of what he went through until now. When you say that lately you see not manifestations of nationalism, or even chauvinism and you give harsh and terrible examples from history, but he is the result of what?
Aloni: Geula, do not give Israeli society any discounts. Even those who do terrible things in many places. There is legitimacy. Some children, of course, there are children, let us say, with perhaps personal adversity, or from a weak social milieu but they heard rabbis who  don’t rent apartments to Arabs, and Jewish girls should not – there was that Rabbis’ wives letter – that  Jewish girls should not hang around Arabs. He perhaps read Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the day I read in the paper ...
Even: You attribute a lot of reading material that I doubt he digested, (inaudible due to the two talking at once)… it's so much material.
Aloni: it is a whole culture where there is escalation, or there is more free speech, with no suppression, whereby it is stated that we are sort of chosen people, that we cannot assimilate with the Arabs and we must steer clear of them. This discourse among weak groups can be translated as ‘hilltop youth’ or terrorism against Jews…”.

In the first instance, it appears Ms. Kershner cannot either translate adequately or was provided with a less-than-authentic transcript of Aloni’s words.

Second, that he is the son of radical and extreme leftist Shulamit Aloni is quite relevant to his opinion.

Third, the quotation is less than representative of his approach which is basically a rejection of traditional Jewish culture, even if not necessarily religious.

And fourth, how is it that just last month the entire spectrum of the left-wing, in Israel as well as abroad, lashed into US presidential candidate Mitt Romney for arguing that there is something wrong culturally with a group of people and now, to attack culture is proper and acceptable?

Is it that Romney was referring to Arabs whereas Aloni and Co. are talking about Jews?

That seems to be the culture of political discourse in Israel.


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