Stop your abortion if you're Jewish

BibiadFor the last few days, this ad has been displayed prominently on the website of Haaretz, the Hebrew and English-language Israeli newspaper. It reads, "if the Arab population in Israel reaches 40%, the Jewish state will be nullified. For the only solution, click here." All that above a picture of Benyamin Netanyahu, the former prime minister who is largely responsible for sabotaging the admittedly flawed Oslo peace process.

If you actually click through, it will take you to EFRAT, an Israeli organization dedicated to countering the "demographic bomb" of Arab Israelis by discouraging Jewish Israelis from carrying out abortions. Cue Nigel Parry of the Electronic Intifada:

EFRAT, an organization committed only "to increase the Jewish birthrate in Israel" has no problem using the historical Jewish bogeyman of annihilation, fueled by naked racism, to frighten pregnant women into choosing not to have an abortion.

Lest one think that EFRAT is a marginal organization, its website claims to have "saved 17,000 children" since 1977, boasts 2,900 trained volunteers, and its website offers video testimonials from "VIPs" that include Mr. Moshe Katsav, President of the State of Israel [View: Page | Video], and Rabbi Israel Meir Lau [View: Page | Video], who served as Israel’s Chief Rabbi between 1993-2003, was appointed Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv-Jaffa in 2005, and received the Israel Prize the same year.

While Rabbi Israel Meir Lau's comments focus on praising EFRAT for offering an alternative to abortion, Moshe Katsav praises Efrat "for fulfilling a national duty of great importance. There was never a period in all the years of Jewish history that such a duty was as essential as it is in this generation." While it is not clear exactly what Katsav is referring to in the short clip, his invocation of history suggests he is hitting the same message as EFRAT's advertisement, one of survival of the Jewish people in Israel, in a time of demographic change.

And Ha'aretz, one of the most influential newspapers in a country where one-fifth of the population are Arabs, presumably with many Arab readers, did not think twice about accepting money for an advertisement that portrays Arabs as a force of destruction in Israel, solely on the basis of their birthrate.

Is there really anything left to say?
Hmmm not really.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.