IRAC’s bridge too far

The American Reform Movement, which believes that it has the right to dictate how Israel should deal with its most critical security matters, also wants to remake Israeli society in an American image. And not by imitating the best features of American culture, but rather by choosing some of the worst: the hyper-progressive politically correct part.

The Reform Movement funds an Israeli political action organization called IRAC, the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC). IRAC works closely with the Israeli Left to provoke and embarrass right-wing governments as political support for the Left, but part is also intended to inject the particularly American progressive world view into Israeli political consciousness.

They have not been especially successful, at least not yet. They tried to hitch a ride on the issue of Haredi harassment of women on buses, calling a woman who refused to change her seat when confronted by a male passenger the “Israeli Rosa Parks.” But of course in Israel there is no law calling for segregated seating on buses; and the courts, the police, most politicians, and the massive majority of Israelis supported the woman. She kept her seat and was not arrested like the American Rosa Parks.

They hijacked the original struggle of the Israeli religious feminists known as the Women of the Wall to allow women to pray out loud in the women’s section of the Western Wall with Torah scrolls and talitot (prayer shawls normally worn by men), and with the backing of the Israeli Reform and Conservative movements, demanded that a section of the wall be set aside for mixed-gender prayer. This has had serious political ramifications and provoked considerable violence from their Haredi opponents.

Although that issue has been effective in creating dislike for Israel and PM Netanyahu in America, it has gained IRAC little support among the Israeli public. Religious people are virtually all opposed to mixed-gender prayer, secular Israelis – despite how annoyed they are with the Haredi religious establishment that interferes with their lives in important areas like marriage – couldn’t care less about how people pray at the Wall, and the Israelis who do care are a tiny fraction of the public.

So IRAC has a new project: searching out instances of “racism” in Israeli society and pursuing legal and political remedies. In particular, they have created a “Racism Crisis Center” where people can call and complain about allegedly racist treatment.

Some of what they do is reasonable opposition to discrimination, such as calling attention to police harassment of Ethiopian Jews. But some is purely political, like their insistence that the Nation-State Law is “blatantly racist legislation.” Their overall goal is to create a “shift in the public mindset” in which “racism,” in the broadest possible sense, is moved to the forefront of Israeli consciousness, as it is among progressive Americans.

Most of their issues concern the treatment of the Arab minority in Israel. I maintain that the introduction of the concept of “racism,” with all its baggage of European colonialism, slavery, and the treatment of blacks in America or apartheid South Africa, only serves to obscure the nature of the real national conflict between the Jewish people and the Palestinian Arabs. Worse, it imports a radical left-wing interpretation of the conflict, in which Israel is a colonial power oppressing Palestinian “people of color,” when the root of the conflict lies in the Arab/Muslim rejection of Jewish sovereignty anywhere in the region.

But today IRAC has crossed a bridge too far. The Racism Crisis Center has discovered a “crisis” in the instructions issued by the Jerusalem municipality to the city’s kindergartens. Here is a quote from an article in Ha’aretz:

The instructions, published by the emergency and security department of the Jerusalem municipality and distributed to the city’s kindergartens and pre-schools, order that “outsiders many not enter kindergarten premises,” adding that “as a rule, entrance is not permitted to minority groups.”

According to the instructions, if minority groups want to enter the school, “the local security officer must be notified.” In Israel, the Hebrew term “minority groups” usually refers to Arabs and other non-Jews.

In its appeal, the Racism Crisis Center, operated by the Israel Religious Action Center – the advocacy arm of the Reform movement in Israel – said that the municipality instructions to comprehensively prohibit outsiders and non-Jewish minorities from entering kindergartens harm their right to human dignity and equality, and therefore is wrong, illegal and forbidden.

“Outsiders” means people that are not either parents or other caregivers whose names are given to the kindergarten by parents, and for obvious reasons they are usually not allowed in. Here in Rehovot, when my wife picks up a grandchild from his kindergarten, she is required to identify herself and the list is checked, even when the child jumps into her arms. But there are exceptions, like contractors, repairmen, and so forth.

And in those cases – the Jerusalem municipality, and mine, and every other one in Israel, practices ethnic profiling. Yes, just like at the airport, and the shopping mall, and everywhere else. Because it works, and it works because while all Arabs are not terrorists, almost all the terrorists that would kill our children are Arabs.

IRAC thinks that’s wrong:

The appeal adds that “protecting the security of kindergarten children and personnel is of the utmost importance. However, the security considerations, as important and worthy as they may be, don’t justify the gross discrimination against non-Jews.”

Are they out of their minds? Of course protecting our children justifies ethnic profiling! And I think 99% of Israeli Jews (and probably a lot of Arabs too) would agree with me. IRAC and its director, the extreme leftist Anat Hoffman, apparently do not.

I don’t welcome the “shift in the public mindset” to an American-progressive style of aggressive stupidity that they are trying to bring about. I would like to think that the down-to-earth, pragmatic Israeli national character won’t accept political correctness. But then, Americans were once known for their common sense as well.

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One Response to IRAC’s bridge too far

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    This is lunatic interference by people who do not know what they are talking about.
    The American Jewish community and its leaders are failing in their major tasks in regard to preserving and building that community’s Jewish identity.

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