Wahlkrieg in Israel

Bald sind Wahlen in Israel und natürlich versuchen alle politischen Parteien ihre Positionen in ein möglichst positives Licht zu stellen. Doch leider wird der Wahlkampf auch dieses Jahr wieder sehr aggressiv geführt und besonders die Stimmungsmache der politischen Rechten gegenüber jeglichen kritischen Positionen erinnert mich stark an die Verteuflung der Politik Rabins kurz vor seiner Ermordung im November 1995.

1996 gab der damalige Erziehungsminister Amnon Rubinstein eine Studie in Auftrag, die das Demokratiebewusstsein von israelischen Schülern untersuchen sollte. Die sog. Kremnitzer-Studie  mit dem Titel: „On Being a Citizens“ konstatierte damals eine zunehmende Aufsplitterung der Gesellschaft. Viele Lehrer – so Kremnitzer – fürchteten eine Auseinandersetzung mit den Schülern zu Grundfragen der israelischen Identität, da die Kommunikationsfähigkeit und Diskussionskultur nur schlecht ausgebildet seien.  Stark ausgeprägte Vorurteile gegenüber Minderheiten (Araber, Ultraorthodoxe etc.) seien ebenso feststellbar wie die Bereitschaft, Grundrechte wie die Rede- und Pressefreiheit zu relativieren.

Leider hat sich daran seither nicht viel geändert. Israel ist zwar weiter eine pluralistische und starke Demokratie, doch die Bereitsschaft, sich auch mal eine konträre Meinungen anzuhören, fehlt gerade bei diesem Wahlkampf so häufig wie selten zuvor. Zweimal habe ich aus diesem Grund Veranstaltungen verlassen, weil das Herumgetobe nicht mehr auszuhalten war.

Folgenden Text fand ich auf der Facebook Seite von Stav Shaffir, die ich im März 2012 bereits in einem Blogbeitrag vorstellte. Die Sozial-Aktivistin der Sommerprotestbewegung 2011 beschloss eine politische Karriere anzutreten und kandidiert heute auf Platz 9 der Arbeiterpartei. Der Text beschreibt die aggressive Stimmung auf einer Podiumsdiskussion in Netanya, zu der Vertreter unterschiedlicher Parteien eingeladen wurden. Dankenswerterweise wurde der Text von Sol Salbe, einem Journalisten des Middle East News Service in Englische übersetzt. Weiter fand ich in Internet ein Video der Veranstaltung:

http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/28347710

Auch wer kein Hebräisch versteht, der Geräuschpegel spricht für sich…

For the first time ever I left a speaking panel midstream. And of all places it was in Netanya – the city of my birth and where I learnt for the first time to pronounce the word „democracy“. Today they tried to re-educate me. It started with an election panel. Each one of the party representatives was given  five minutes to speak. When Balad  representative Yael Lerer’s [a Jewish Israeli] turn came up, she managed to use two minutes of her time before the audience shut her up. „What about the Marmara?“ Someone yelled. „I am proud that we were there,“ she said. Bingo, that was it. The audience rose  up.

Students pulled out their mobile cell phones, to document the circus. Likud MK Ofir Akunis marched to the front of the stage and issued us with an order: „All the representatives of the Zionist parties must get off the stage at once and not listen to this abomination!“.

The Jewish Home and Kadima reps began to march off  in line. Yoel Hasson [Kadima MK and candidate for Livni’s The Movement] stood up and asked Yael retract her comment on the Marmara, he turned around getting on and off impatiently. Aryeh Eldad (Otzma Leyisrael), waited patiently. Perhaps he wanted to say a good word to Yael in the Arabic that he  studied before filming his racist  video election clip. Ofer Shelah [former journalist and candidate for Yesh Atid], Mossi Raz of Meretz and I remain sitted on the side of democracy.

Publikum stört Podiumsdiskussion in Netanya

Publikum stört Podiumsdiskussion in Netanya

Yael insists on speaking, the audience screamed in response. Suddenly, they stood up as one and sang the national anthem, Hatikva. Faster, stronger, stronger. A growing gang walked toward the stage and shouted at Yael went, „our friends were killed  in wars in this country, who gave you the right to speak here at all?“ Akunis stood to the side purring in pleasure.

The moderator of the panel, a student himself, did not know how to respond.  At one point he asked Yael to leave the stage, then pleaded with her to  just shut up. I look at him and told him that if she wasn’t given the right to be heard like the rest of us, I would not remain on the stage either.

He responded with an apologetic look.

Then president of the college took the stage. A mature man wearing a skullcap. We all cried out for silence. He stood there and regaled how proud he was that the college has now decided that Ethiopians would be able to study there with free tuition. The crowd applauded happily. He got off the stage and asked his secretary to get him out of there. „Quickly“, he ordered her, „I must go“.

Kadima’s Ronit Tirosh [former Director-General of Education -tr] encouraged the audience to scream and shout. She explained to Yael that those present have democratically decided through their shouting that  Balad is not suitable for the occasion and that Yael should consider this and get off the stage. Arieh Eldad (Otzma Leyisrael) stood behind her and preached that ours is a Jewish state and that we are not going away and nobody will make us do so either.

Applause.

And when his hateful, racist voice  got mixed with the applause, while Yael was trying in vain to speak only to discover that her microphone has been switched off – I lost my composure. I stood up and stopped Eldad in his tracks. „I do not agree with Balad’s opinions,“ I said to the audience, „but even more I disagree with the fatal blows to democracy that other parties present here on the stage are proposing in turn.“

The audience applauded but seemed a  little confused. Yulia Shamalov [Kadima MK but candidate for the Kalakla (Economy) Party] tries to stop me, mumbling something about the New Israel Fund.

I continued. „We have among us racist extremist parties that threaten to destroy our existence as a democratic state. It is possible not to agree with them either, I do not agree with them, but I will sit here and hear them just like I will listen to the Balad representative, because above  all I love our democracy. If we do not listen to those whose opinions we find difficult to hear, none of us have no place here“.

Five minutes later, and Eldad is back to his fiery style. He talk about his party,  Judaism and purity. It is the oratory of a victor – he speaks as if the state with all with all its values and beliefs, belongs to him. I decided to leave the stage. Yoel Hasson and Mossi Raz joined me and got off as well. A group of Labour Party activists come out to embrace and support me. „We’re really in danger,“ says one, as he took glance at the Jewish Home activists who were roaring in the hall. He was not talking about Knesset seats, he was thinking deep foundations upon which this country was built, crashing into the deep abyss of a dark land.

We have had too many years in which Akunis and his colleagues have educated our children. They have redefined Zionism, democracy, our hope – and snatched them from the sane public, which began to mix up Zionism with racism; democracy with the curbing the media and freedom of expression; and proper leadership with the abolition of the power of the courts, the justice system and the law .

The election campaign seems somnolent to many people. But there is a  great danger hovering over it. If you want Akunis to continue to educate our children, stay at home, read a good book and talk about the snow. And if you are worried, like me – I expect to see you with us, on the streets, in the  schools, in the respective parties headquarters. Friends, in two weeks we won’t be only electing a party but we’ll be taking a stand on our freedom, democracy and  sanity as well.

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