How Israel teaches its citizens all the wrong lessons

William Saletan writes: Across Israel, anger at Arabs is building. In the wake of a horrific Palestinian terrorist attack on a Jerusalem synagogue — and concurrent with violent protests by Palestinians — several assaults by Jews against Arabs have been reported. Arab workers are reporting a rise in job discrimination. In a poll published Thursday, 58 percent of Jews endorsed a decision by the mayor of Ashkelon, a major city, to bar Arab citizens of Israel from working near young schoolchildren.

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, says these discriminatory outbursts and policies are wrong. “We must not generalize about an entire public due to a small and violent minority,” he asserts. But Netanyahu teaches this kind of prejudice every day, by demolishing the homes of the families of suspected terrorists.

Israel has employed this policy, off and on, for decades. It’s rooted in old military laws and based on the idea that it deters prospective terrorists. The government doesn’t have to show that the family members who live in the house — grandparents, children, cousins — are guilty or even suspected of any crime. And the policy applies only to Arabs, not to Jews.

The first lesson this policy teaches Israelis is that it’s legitimate to inflict suffering on innocent people in order to discourage terrorism. [Continue reading…]

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