Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Racism in Israel

Israeli immigration policies have had the unintended side effect of increasing anti-Semitism in Israel:

The Israeli attorney general has launched a criminal investigation into a local neo-Nazi website that jokes about gas chambers, advocates shooting Palestinians and denies that the Holocaust happened.

The website, published in Russian by a group calling itself the White Israeli Union is believed to be the work of immigrants from the former Soviet Union who claimed to be Jews when they entered Israel but who are blamed for the sharp rise in anti-semitism and advocacy of white supremacy.

Among other things, the site encourages readers to join an Israeli army combat unit to kill Arabs. Its pictures include one of a man in Israeli military uniform with his arm raised in the Hitler salute.

The website says it is run by "Ilya from Haifa and Andrei from Arad", who describe themselves as "people who have pride in themselves and are sick of living among the dirty bastards".

They have drawn up a list of "enemies" collectively derided as "black arses". They include Jews, Arabs, foreign workers and, tellingly, immigrants from Muslim republics of the former Soviet Union.

About a million Russians and others from former Soviet states have emigrated to Israel over the past 10 years. It is an open secret that many have only distant ties to Judaism and some bought forged birth certificates with Jewish names to escape the collapsing Soviet Union. The Israeli government, desperate for new immigrants to counter the burgeoning Palestinian population, turned a blind eye.

But the recent immigration has also brought a novel form of anti-semitism with the appearance of graffiti in public places such as: "The end of the Jews is near." Swastikas have been painted on walls in Russian-speaking neighbourhoods of Jerusalem and other Israeli towns.

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