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Israeli Professor Urges American Jews to “Worry about Israel’s Racist Cancer”

Allan C. Brownfeld, Editor
Special Interest Report
April 2014

Daniel Blatman, a history professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, wrote an article in Ha’aretz (March 7, 2014), headlined, “If I Were an American Jew, I’d Worry about Israel’s Racist Cancer.”  
The sub-head in the paper was: “Amid the awareness that Israel is sliding toward an apartheid regime, the silence of Jews worldwide is deafening.”  
Dr. Blatman writes that, “If I were an American Jew who held Israel dear, I would view the crisis afflicting the greatest Jewish dream in modern times with despair. When sitting down at Shabbat dinner with my adult children, I would hear that Israel no longer represents the values on which they were raised: human dignity, equal rights, a pluralistic society, and the obligation to fight for the weak and the persecuted. In the eyes of America’s future economic and political leaders, Israel no longer has a place in the family of enlightened nations. It has become the South Africa of the 21st century.”  
If he were an American Jew, notes Blatman, ‘’I would recall that during the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in March 1965, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marched alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. And I would ask myself how it happened that today the center of the public Jewish stage in America is occupied by people such as Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, which criticized Congress when it recognized the Armenian genocide, or casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who has called the Palestinians an ‘invented people.’”  
Beyond this, he writes, “I would be proud that young Jews were very prominent in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. And I would recall the words of Nelson Mandela, who said, ‘I have found Jews to be more broad minded “than most whites on issues of race and politics, perhaps because they themselves have historically been victims of prejudice.’… I would conclude that this was a time of emergency. It’s not the Iranian threat that endangers Israel’s survival, it’s the moral and ethical collapse of its society.”  
The state of emergency which Dr. Blatman believes is called for is absent: “Such a sense of emergency does not exist today among the millions of Jews worldwide. Their silence is deafening. They don’t dare break with the consensus and take action against the injustices perpetrated in Israel. This is a traditional policy of Diaspora Jews, who since the establishment of Israel have set a basic rule: we are not citizens of the Jewish state and therefore we have no right to intervene in deciding its future … But if the vision of an open, egalitarian and peace-loving Israel is important to Jews around the world, they can’t leave the chances of fulfilling it in the hands of the Israelis alone. The racist cancer after 47 years of occupation and domination of another people has spread deep into Israeli society.” •

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