How a Toxic Mix of Austerity and State Racism Led to Violent Riots in Israel

In my latest piece for Alternet, I take a broad look at the increasing civilian violence within the Green Line, inside Israel “proper,” even though that phrase has lost a lot of meaning now that the settlers have won. I’ll get into that more in another article soon, but for now, I look at how economic policies that were embraced years ago by Netanyahu but have roots that go much farther than him actually have sown the seeds of the violent xenophobia that has mushroomed in Israel, making headlines with a lynching in Jerusalem and riots in Tel Aviv in recent months.

The Tel Aviv Riots: An All Too Familiar Story

After writing my article today, which dealt with the ongoing race riots in Tel Aviv, I saw a couple of things that spurred some further thoughts, perhaps in a different vein from the piece up at Souciant.

Sign on the right: “What country are we living in? Sudan? Eritrea? Al-Qaeda in the midst of the state!!!”

One was a tweet that pointed to the riots and sarcastically added “the only democracy in the Middle East.”

Now, Israel’s democracy has serious problems, and they include both social and bureaucratic methods (though as the hasbaraniks are always quick to point out, generally not legal ones anymore) of depriving its Arab citizens of full equality with Jews. It is also under attack from the right, as embodied in the words and deeds of leaders from Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu, Shas and other, smaller rightist parties (including Kadima, which can only be called “centrist” in a country that has tilted absurdly to the right).

But this still stands as a perfect example of Israel being held to a different standard than other countries. There are many criticisms to level against Israeli democracy, even before we consider the West Bank;  but as ugly as these riots are, they are not one of them. Continue reading