the drum that thunders

Maybe there is some intelligent thinking behind the fact Jews establish identity through matrilineality. Maybe rabbi Akiba saw through the fantasy of ethnic purity, the sham of the blood line and well as understanding that inbreeding, albeit producing some interesting results in the extreme, can be unhealthy to a people on the whole…

..All of a sudden, we can say “racism.” A shock wave has struck complacent Israeli society. A few dozen Ethiopian children were not accepted to religious schools in Petah Tikva. That is truly terrible, everyone tsked-tsked at the heart-rending picture of Aschalo Sama, a boy without a school. Even President Shimon Peres expressed shock. Everyone is permitted to be shocked; it is politically correct. Oh, how beautiful we are, how enlightened we seem to ourselves. Look how we fight racism, undaunted and uncompromising. And yet, in a twinkling, this shame will be forgotten, and we will be left with the many other manifestations of society’s racism, to which we remain sleepily indifferent….

--Here’s what we would all like to know about the Lemba — which is the name of that lost tribe in Namibia — but are slightly reluctant to ask. Did members of the Lemba minority furnish the majority of Southwest Africa’s political revolutionaries, freelance intellectuals, doctors, comedians, union-organizers and lawyers? (Also, how did they fare when the region was under the control of German colonialists and ethnologists?) Or did the Lemba keep within their ghetto walls, muttering about the Second Temple and the tendency of their mutinous young people to marry Ovambo or Herero shvartzes? Read more:

…That’s the way we are. From time to time, when the sewage overflows, and the stink spreads everywhere and we can no longer hold our noses, we all cry out against injustice until, once again, the cover is closed. The water underneath continues to froth and stink, but it will be covered and repressed. It is difficult to know, for example, how many self-righteous and tsking parents would have agreed to register their children in a class with a majority of children of Ethiopian origin.( Gideon Levy )

Zionism is in part about the  modernizing necessity,  to which Jews are modern, and equally, that their Ethiopian brethren are pre-civilized and in need of European Zionism’s civilising, and colonizing mission. Western society’s apparently profound need for a social scale and pecking order from which to establish comparative preference. Its not exactly apartheid, but its a variation on it stretching to the chilling center of rights of reproduction. In the Zionist context, its termed historicist racism in which there is an articulation of the Jewish race, a certain homogeneity of the Jewish people, almost absurd and an incongruous juxtaposition given the self-evident Jewish heterogeneity; still, this ideal of the Jewish nation has to embody all the racial baggage inherent in the nation state conception, and in the case of Israel to shield itself from anti-semitic persecutions as the basis for state building ambitions, which to an unsettling degree seemed to borrow on theories not nidistinct from the Third Reich or Francis Galton:

Castrating the mentally ill, encouraging reproduction among families “numbered among the intelligentsia” and limiting the size of “families of Eastern origin” and “preventing … lives that are lacking in purpose” — these proposals are not from some program of the Third Reich but rather were brought up by key figures in the Zionist establishment of the Land of Israel during the period of the British Mandate. It turns out there was a great deal of enthusiasm here for the improvement of the hereditary characteristics of a particular race (eugenics). This support, which has been kept under wraps for many years, is revealed in a study that examines the ideological and intellectual roots at the basis of the establishment of the health system in Israel.Read More:

It seems apparent that the phrase “the chosen people” has also come to serve as metaphor for the chosen body. According to Ronit Lentin,   Israeli geneticist Rafael Falk views Zionist history as a eugenicist  project which aims  to save the Jewish genetic pool from the degeneration forced upon the Jews by diaspora existence. Judaism as a racial essence can almost be viewed as a form of Veblen conspicuous waste, the kind of behavior, outrageous one would undertake in an advanced materialist mentality, rather peculiar and counter-intuitive for a people that ostensibly was conceived on a purely spiritual basis without reference to biology as a conditional reflex.  Lentin wrote that  prominent Zionists like Theodor Herzl, Moshe Hess, Haim Nahman Bialik, Max Nordau and  Buber all adopted the idea of a racial  nation shaped by blood and soil (Falk). The truth may be more nuanced, but it does echo Hitchen’s narcissism of small differences…

Hitchens:Recent advances in DNA testing have either simplified or complicated the claims of holy books and founding texts. A riveting recent essay in Commentary described the results of a match-up between the genetic database of the Kohanim — those whose Jewish ancestry is supposedly the strongest and best-attested — and that of a “lost tribe” in Namibia that has long claimed Jewish descent. The fit was amazingly close. So it is with other groups in the Asian diaspora, many of whose folk stories had been thought to be merely legendary. It also turns out that there is a close DNA affinity between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs; a finding that, if it does not confirm Freud’s weird speculations in “Moses and Monotheism,” at least reinforces his theory of the narcissism of the small difference.Read more:

So, The Chosen Body, and the idea of return to the land, the blood and soil gene, was just too tempting, to easy to seize upon by some  Zionist thinkers as a kind of cure that would restore the health of the Jewish body- put Franz Kafka and Walter Benjamin on a tractor. That’ll teach them-  that had become the ghetto waif in the Diaspora. The so-called Judaism of muscle would now do the beating. …. from Lentin:  ”At a time when many Europeans are calling for a policy of eugenics, the Jews have never taken part in the ‘cleansing’ of their race but rather allowed every child, be it the sickest, to grow up and marry and have children like himself. Even the mentally retarded, the blind and the deaf were allowed to marry,” wrote Ruppin in his book “The Sociology of the Jews.” “In order to preserve the purity of our race, such Jews [with signs of degeneracy -- T.T.] must refrain from having children.”

Image: Read More: ---I am willing to accept that there are some bad apples among the Ethiopians, and that some of those bad apples are also some of the most flamboyant members of the Ethiopian community. I am also willing to accept that a lot of very lost souls came to Israel--and that those lost souls, desperate for a new life in a new land, came to Israel with the idea that they would convert Jews to xtian beliefs, establish churches, and do their best to steal the souls of their brothers. However, I also know there are hundreds upon hundreds of Ethiopians who are trying to do the right thing and get the education they need, and follow the ways of the rabbis who are teaching them, and

pray with sincerity, and who are Jews to their bones. We can never be sure any Jew is truly dedicated, can we? We can never be sure any Jew will do the right thing, can we? But we still regard them as Jews. ---

Some 5,000 people were demonstrating in Jerusalem on Wednesday in protest of the racism against Ethiopian immigrants in Israel.

The protesters blocked a major road in Jerusalem and marched in front of the Knesset while holding signs that read, “Blacks and Whites – We’re all Equal”, “Social Justice,” “Our Blood is Only Good for Wars.”

Social activist Daniel Bahart said the protesters had a list of demands and are ready to propose solutions as well.

Read More: ---An Israeli of Ethiopian origin wears face paint as she demonstrates against discrimination of Ethiopian immigrants in front of the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) on January 18, 2012 in Jerusalem, Israel. According to Ethiopian residents of the southern town of Kiryat Malachi, housing committees in the city have been refusing to sell them apartments.---

“We hope at least one of the decision makers will come down to us, hear us and respond to our demands. Of course we expect [Immigraant Absorption Minister] Sofa Landver to talk to us,” he said.

Landver said last week, in response to protests against discrimination of Israelis from Ethiopia, that they should be grateful for what they have received from Israel.

“We have problems and we will not rest until things change. As of now the response to racism has been merely cosmetic. There are still numerous racists in the schools who receive wages from the state, there is segregation in schools, nightclubs…we’ll continue demonstrating until these issues are solved,” he said….

Image: Read More: don't hear that the Ethiopians are buying pork and putting up xmas lights as much as I hear that about the Russians, and I don't hear that the Ethiopians are involved in the anti-semitic gangs activities that the Russians are involved with, and I don't hear that the Ethiopians are running drugs and prostitutes like the Russians are . . . but it seems that everyone wants to avoid the Ethiopians. But, of course, it has nothing to do with race. Right? And, of course, this whole thing is happening on a backdrop of religious schools who won't let any Mizrahi Jews into their schools either . . .and so-called "religious" families who won't accept a Sephardic shidduch because, of course, Sephardim are violent and emotional, we are involved in drugs and gangs, and we are never as religious as the nice Ashkenazi Jews from such esteemed families. . .but, of course, that has nothing to do with our color or our minhag, right?---

…Meretz Knesset members Ilan Gilon and Nitzan Horowitz on Monday submitted a proposal to the ministerial legislation committee banning discrimination in renting or selling a home on the basis of nationality, skin color, sexual inclination, handicap and political association.

However the committee put off discussing the proposal for a month, in what Gilon called a deliberate attempt to scrap it once the public uproar died down.

“It is clear the cabinet is trying to bury the proposal and silence the Ethiopian immigrants’ outcry,” Gilon said.

A week ago, hundreds demonstrated in Kiryat Malakhi to protest discrimination in the wake of the reported refusal of housing committees to sell apartments to Israelis of Ethiopian origin.Read More:


But for some of those with a foot in both societies, the distinctions are blurred by other realities. Some Jewish South Africans and Israelis who lived with apartheid – including politicians, Holocaust survivors and men once condemned as terrorists – describe aspects of modern Israel as disturbingly reminiscent of the old South Africa. Some see the parallels in a matrix of discriminatory practices and controls, and what they describe as naked greed for land seized by the fledgling Israeli state from fleeing Arabs and later from the Palestinians for the ever expanding West Bank settlements. “Apartheid was an extension of the colonial project to dispossess people of their land,” said the Jewish South African cabinet minister and former ANC guerrilla, Ronnie Kasrils, on a visit to Jerusalem. “That is exactly what has happened in Israel and the occupied territories; the use of force and the law to take the land. That is what apartheid and Israel have in common.”…

…There was a time when he believed the young Jewish state might provide the example of a better way for the country of his birth. As it is, Goldreich sees Israel as closer to the white regime he fought against and modern South Africa as providing the model. Israeli governments, he says, ultimately proved more interested in territory than peace, and along the way Zionism mutated.

Goldreich speaks of the “bantustanism we see through a policy of occupation and separation”, the “abhorrent” racism in Israeli society all the way up to cabinet ministers who advocate the forced removal of Arabs, and “the brutality and inhumanity of what is imposed on the people of the occupied territories of Palestine”.

“Don’t you find it horrendous that this people and this state, which only came into existence because of the defeat of fascism and nazism in Europe, and in the conflict six million Jews paid with their lives for no other reason than that they were Jews, is it not abhorrent that in this place there are people who can say these things and do these things?” he asks.

Goldreich went on to found the architecture department at Jerusalem’s renowned Bezalel Academy, from where he saw architecture and planning evolve as tools for territorial expansion after the 1967 war. “I watched Jerusalem with horror and great doubt and fear for the future. There were those who said that what’s happening is architecture, not politics. You can’t talk about planning as an abstraction. It’s called establishing facts on the ground,” he says.

There was a part of Johannesburg that most residents of the apartheid-era city never saw. By the 1970s, the bulk of the black population was already forced out under the Group Areas Act, which defined living areas by race. The Sophiatown neighbourhood, once a thriving corner of black life, was bulldozed and replaced by rows of dreary bungalows for whites. But several hundred thousand black people remained in Alexandra township, close to Johannesburg’s most affluent neighbourhood, Sandton. The traffic out of Alexandra was one-way. Its residents left each day to work in the mines and shops or to clean homes in Sandton. Whites rarely ventured the short drive off Louis Botha avenue into the overcrowded, often squalid, unpaved back streets of an Alexandra deprived of a decent water supply, adequate schools and refuse collection.

The contrast between West and East Jerusalem is not as stark, but the disparities between Jewish and Arab neighbourhoods are underpinned by attitudes, policies and laws similar to those used against Johannesburg’s black population. Read More:
It may sound like another myth of a lost tribe of Israel, but British scientists have carried out DNA tests which have confirmed their Semitic origin.

These tests back up the group’s belief that a group of perhaps seven men married African women and settled on the continent. The Lemba, who number perhaps 80,000, live in central Zimbabwe and the north of South Africa.

And they also have a prized religious artefact that they say connects them to their Jewish ancestry – a replica of the Biblical Ark of the Covenant known as the ngoma lungundu, meaning “the drum that thunders”.

The object went on display recently at a Harare museum to much fanfare, and instilled pride in many of the Lemba.

“For me it’s the starting point,” says religious singer Fungisai Zvakavapano-Mashavave.

“Very few people knew about us and this is the time to come out. I’m very proud to realise that we have a rich culture and I’m proud to be a Lemba.

“We have been a very secretive people, because we believe we are a special people.”

The Lemba have many customs and regulations that tally with Jewish tradition.

They wear skull caps, practise circumcision, which is not a tradition for most Zimbabweans, avoid eating pork and food with animal blood, and have 12 tribes.

They slaughter animals in the same way as Jewish people, and they put the Jewish Star of David on their tombstones.

Members of the priestly clan of the Lemba, known as the Buba, were even discovered to have a genetic element also found among the Jewish priestly line.Read More:

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