Until this month, the shadowy Lehava organisation was best known for issuing an eccentric demand in March urging Bar Refaeli, an Israelimodel, not to marry Leonardo DiCaprio, the American actor, because he is a gentile.Of course, you can't expect the Telegraph to expose the whole shebang of Israel's racism, just those it can pass off as fringe:
But in recent weeks it has taken on a more sinister hue by spearheading a series of actions that included a rally in the coastal city of Bat Yam to denounce Jews who rent their homes to Arabs.In the broader political spectrum, Lehava may represent a tiny minority of malcontents but there is growing unease in Israel after the message about renting homes was effectively endorsed by 300 rabbis.The rabbis, some of them of senior rank, signed up to an edict issued last month that declared: "It is forbidden in the Torah to sell a house or a field in the land of Israel to a foreigner."With its undertones reminiscent of 1930s Berlin, where Jews were relegated to second-class status and denied the right to rent German-owned properties, the pronouncement has appalled Holocaust survivors.
Lehava has caused widespread concern by concentrating its attention on Israel's Arab minority, which makes up 20 per cent of the population. Israeli politicians, including Benjamin Netanyahu,Gideon Levy in Ha'aretz has no such qualms:
the prime minister, as well as a large number of rabbis have denounced the edict.
Yet Israel's reputation of tolerance and inclusion towards its Arab minority has been tarnished. Chanting "death to the Arabs", a group of ultraorthodox Jews threw bottles and stones at a block of flats housing Arab students in the northern town of Safed. Elsewhere in the country, there have been several reported cases of Jewish gangs, one of them consisting of teenage girls, beating up Arabs on the street.
Mr Flug, who said many fellow survivors of the Holocaust had called him to express their anxiety, appealed to the Israeli government to take action against the rabbis. "Can you imagine what would happen if a Jew in Germany or Switzerland or Britain wanted to rent an apartment and neighbours or the mayor said no?" he said. "You must stop this kind of thing when it begins."
This was the year we finally came out of the closet - no more saccharine phrases and hollow talk about justice and equality, no more flowery and superficial words about peace and two states. This year the truth was heard in public, echoing loud and clear from one end of the country to the other, worrisome and depressing.But he's right. Israel's racism, its aims and objectives are out in the open now.
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign has sent out an email calling for increased BDS activism in 2011 but no doubt the hasbara brigade will be increasing their activism too.