When I visited Palestine and Israel in 2004 the idea of two states was being questioned even by Yasser Arafat’s lieutenant. “I don’t care what you call it” he said “but we need peace based on equality”. Now a CIA report questions whether Israel will exist in 20 years time. There are signs that its citizens are moving to the United States or to Russia.
It’s difficult to see any project in history which sought to maintain stability through oppression succeeded in the long term. While the measures taken against Palestinians and discrimination against Israeli Arabs have existed for far too long the Gaza incursion may proved to have been a step too far. It has at last drawn attention to the character of the Israeli state and public opinion world wide has been vociferous in protest. Unfortunately this has not been matched by government action in the main with only countries like Venezuela and Bolivia expelling the Israeli ambassador.
The source of the report means it has to be taken seriously. It draws on trends in the israeli population which shows numbers of people with U.S. and other foreign passports together with those applying for them. Clear Israel’s government has not persuaded them that a long term peaceful settlement and two state solution is possible. There has been little sign that they have any intention of doing anything than isolate and harass Palestinian citizens. As apartheid South Africa collapsed very quickly so will the state of Israel.
Jewish Voice for Peace comments on the type of culture that has been built in Israel illustrating it with a sales promotion by a large arms manufacturer aimed at its major customer, India:
“The major Israeli arms manufacturer “Raphael” produced a promo tailored especially for one of its most significant arms buyers, India. As reported in the first item below recounting part of the international response to it, this clip is an extremely blunt, not to say bludgeoning, expression of Israel’s racist, sexist orientalism. Reflecting the perceptions of Israeli defense officials, it portrays India (and by implication other major “third world” clients such as Turkey) as a feminized, sexualized, exoticized, undeveloped dependent on Israel’s/Raphael’s masculinized high-tech-protection.
You can watch this hard-to-believe faux pas at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktQOLO4U5iQ&eurl=
Outrageous, blundering, ignorant and offensive as it is, the promo offers a lucid demonstration of the interdependent compound of racism and sexism embedded in Israel’s militarization. As feminist scholars have been showing for years, militarization necessarily involves “othering”–of a fearful, (usually) racialized enemy on the one hand and a vulnerable, weak, feminized protégé on the other. The Raphael sales clip indeed depicts its “friends” as racialized, feminized and inferior “others”. Their progress and security, the clip explains in so many jingle lyrics, lies in succumbing to the masculine, black leathered, superior protector and acquiring Raphael’s arms systems.
The linkage of arms, so-called security and a complementing combination of racism and sexism is accordingly no coincidence. It is a systemic aspect of militarization.
Among other things, Jewish Israeli society (like numerous colonial powers before and since) commonly “others” and further “enemizes” Palestinian or Arab societies in terms of their repression of women, citing this as conclusive evidence of their backwardness, barbarism and cruelty and, conversely in comparison, of Israel’s enlightened, advanced development.
However, the reality in militarized Israel is one of deep running gender discrimination. Requiring vulnerable weak women whose need for protection allegedly justifies the deployment of organized state violence, Israeli culture systematically and actively works to weaken women through a broad spectrum of strategies and practices. One of them is keeping women relatively poor. As reported in the second piece below, in Israel today “the average income of a working woman is 64 percent of the male average.” And “mothers still earn much less than any other demographic in the workforce, despite the fact that they make up a greater part of the workforce than any other group.”
The military in particular, an institution which of course wields enormous influence on society and culture in Israel, tends to “put women in their [inferior] place” through the structure of their posts and their military roles and through widespread, normalized practices of sexual harassment. A 2003 study by the military itself found that 80 percent of women conscripts were exposed to sexual harassment in the course of their service (http://www.aka.idf.il/yohalan/main/main.asp?catID=18283, Hebrew).
Commenting on a recent scandal around disclosures that Israel’s top naval commander regularly visits strip-clubs, feminist media star Merav Michaeli, writes in the third piece below, “the IDF remains an institution in which women enjoy not even a semblance of equality … a clear majority of women serving in the army are in service positions. Such services are rendered to men in professional positions, and … we know that these include sexual services … the military lacks a clear ethics code emphasizing the significance of the sexual harassment issue, as well as an educational program for soldiers and commanders to change their views on sexual harassment.”
Paradoxically, while reform efforts have achieved, and may continue to achieve, a limited degree of improvement, this very improvement meanwhile works to conceal the central, structural role of sexist-racist beliefs and practices in maintaining the world view vital to the consistently militarized agenda of the Jewish state.”