“I don’t think there’s any answer to it, there’s only one way, I would carpet bomb them,” a young man offers as a solution for Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians. “The Jews should have the right to hate [Arabs],” the man adds. “I think we have the right to hate them.” He’s one of a number of everyday Israelis in the streets of Jerusalem interviewed in the video above by Abby Martin, for TeleSUR’s The Empire Files.
Many of them are immigrants, or the children of immigrants, from the United States. “I think that we need to … kick out the Arabs,” says a young woman who, struggling to express her genocidal thoughts in English, turns to a friend for help. "We need to kill Arabs,” she manages to say in English, as she and her friend giggle. “Islam is a very bad disease, not just for Israel, all around the world,” says one man, who later boasts about Israel’s “gentle” treatment of Palestinians and its respect for human rights. Martin interviews a youth from Lehava, an extremist religious organization whose members act as vigilantes against miscegenation, and rampage through Jerusalem harassing Palestinians. Lehava’s leader has called for the burning of churches and mosques.
The youth explains why the group is opposed to mixed marriages: “Jews are a special nation and we don’t want Jews to get mixed up with a different nation.” “Israelis have to take over and they have to kick them away,” another man suggests. “It will be better not to kill them, just to go back to Arab countries,” he adds offering what he might consider a note of mercy. “You can’t deal with these people, there’s no need to try, there’s no need to talk to them,” says another youth. “What we can do is that when they do enough harm, we retaliate. That’s war and that’s the situation that any Jew in Israel has to deal with.” “The Arabs, may their name and memory be obliterated,” says a religious youth, repeating a phrase habitually heard from Israeli extremist mobs terrorizing Palestinian neighborhoods. An elder explains that God is punishing Jews for their sins: “He sent the Nazis, and now he sends the Palestinians.”
Martin’s film is reminiscent of Feeling the Hate in Jerusalem, a 2009 video made by journalist Max Blumenthal. The video documented young Jews in Jerusalem, many of them Americans, expressing virulently racist views about Barack Obama, who had recently taken office as president of the United States. After garnering hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube, the streaming service banned the video, and Israel lobby groups claimed it offered a distorted picture. But there’s plenty of evidence that the views expressed in that film and in Martin’s new one reflect a reality in which roughly half of Israeli Jews consistently say they favor the outright expulsion of the Palestinian population. And it is perhaps precisely because such views are so popular that the European Union recently hired Avishai Ivri, a “comedian” who openly advocates the mass slaughter of Palestinians, as the face of one of its promotional videos aimed at the Israeli public.
Israeli leaders and lawmakers openly cater to these views by inciting and putting forward their own plans for genocide. Many of the people Martin speaks to repeat familiar themes of Zionist propaganda: that “the Arabs” were invaders, that Palestinians have no rights to the land, that Jews “returned” after thousands of years in exile to find a barren and desolate land. All of these claims are used to rationalize violent state policies that have the avid consent of the people in this extraordinary video.
Martin also speaks with Israeli anti-Zionist activist Ronnie Barkan, who explains the indoctrination Israelis go through from an early age that leads to this kind of violent hatred. “The need to segregate and not to interact with Palestinians is part of the Israeli identity,” Barkan states. “Israeli identity depends on denying Palestinian identity.” According to Barkan, much of Israel’s so-called left are liberal Zionists who “speak the language of peace and human rights,” but whose views differ little in substance from those deemed more right wing. Illustrating this, Martin hears from a man in the street whose opinions are tame compared to others. “I think the occupation does have a role, a big role,” he says. “I don’t think there should be no occupation at all, but in the occupation, things need to be more humane.” When asked how he identifies politically, the man answers, “Yeah, I am a leftist.”
Watching this video could lead to despair that the situation will ever change, given the extremism characterizing so many on the vastly more powerful side. But Barkan emphasizes action. “The views of Israelis about the situation are totally irrelevant to the question of how we change the situation,” Barkan states. “Did it matter what white people think about apartheid at the time? The question is how we end apartheid.”
That is a position supported by evidence. White South Africans overwhelmingly rejected calls to give up their power up until almost the day a democratic transition to a nonracial state took place. What mattered in the end was that apartheid South Africa was isolated and could not carry on with a racist system in the face of growing internal and global resistance. The call from Palestinians today is inspired by that history: boycott, divestment and sanctions are the way to increase the pressure on Israel and change the shocking reality revealed in this video.