Haaretz.com runs ad discouraging Jewish abortions as “only solution” to Arab population growth

The advertisement as it appeared on Ha’aretz.com.

In an incredible example of how acceptable even the most extreme manifestations of anti-Arab racism have become in Israel, the website of the leading English/Hebrew daily, Ha’aretz today ran a front page advertisement that warned:

“If the Arab population in Israel will reach 40% the Jewish State will be nullified. For the only solution press here.”

The link went to a webpage of an Israeli organization, EFRAT (www.efrat.org.il/en/) and treated visitors to a video clip in Hebrew, with English subtitles [Windows Media format].

EFRAT is a group that campaigns against abortion and offers material and emotional support to pregnant mothers before and after their babies are born. The central message of the video is split between the two functions.

While EFRAT are free to hold any political position they wish on the abortion issue and should be commended for offering people a genuine supportive alternative to meet the needs of vulnerable sectors of Israeli society, one wonders at any organization that advertises a humanitarian service in a way that blatantly is designed to appeal to the darkest racist elements of the society it purports to serve.

Despite repeated non-race-specific references to “women” as EFRAT’s clientele on its Our Goal page, another page on EFRAT’s website, “How EFRAT began”, admits that the real purpose of EFRAT is not so egalitarian:

When Mr. Herschel Feigenbaum arrived in Israel after surviving the holocaust, he understood that our children are our future. In memory of the over one and a half million Jewish children who perished, Mr. Feigenbaum founded EFRAT, to increase the Jewish birthrate in Israel.

The ad in context on the Haaretz.com homepage.

The message of the advert on Haaretz.com, shown in its context on the homepage screenshot above, could unambiguously be paraphrased as follows:

Are you a pregnant Jewish women thinking of having an abortion?

The Arabs are breeding faster than we are and the Jewish State will be destroyed when they reach two-fifths of the population.

The only solution is to not have your abortion and take advantage of our services.

So there we have it.

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?

Nigel Parry is a co-founder of the Electronic Intifada.

Above: Rabbi Israel Meir Lau: “That’s why we must help support and assist as much as we can so that Efrat’s message will echo, resonate, and penetrate the hearts.”

Above left: Israeli President Moshe Katsav: “I would like to praise 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.”