Reading today’s Hebrew press was upsetting. Bad news. Worse news. What is happening to the moral and ethical standards in our country? I hardly recognize my country anymore.

A flight on Aegean Airlines from Athens to Tel-Aviv was delayed for one and one half hours due to protests of Jewish Israeli passengers against two Arab-Israeli passengers. The Jewish passengers refused to fly with their Arab fellow citizens who were forced to leave the plane. They were given hotel accomadations in Athens and a flight to Tel-Aviv the next day.

Is there no crime or punishment for racism in our country? What has happened to our Jewish values?

Two citizens of Israel were forced off a flight for the only reason that they were Arabs. Absolutely shameful and disgraceful.

Do our Jewish passengers not recall the days in Europe when Jews suffered discrimination, were barred from universities and often from public transport? Why are we doing to others what was done to us?

Kuwaiti Airlines refuses to accept Israeli passengers on its flights from New York to London. As shameful as that is, are we any different in our behavior to our fellow Arab citizens?

Would our Jewish passengers protest against black passengers or would that be consider racism? Is it less racist than forcing citizens of our country to evacuate a flight because they were not Jews?

The attitude of so many Jewish Israelis is contemptible. There is no excuse for such intolerant and spiteful behavior. But that is a sign of the times in our country now. Shame on all of us who keep silent.

A second news item concerned the case against Itamar Shimoni, mayor of the city of Ashkelon. I don’t know which story is worse.

President Katzav and Prime Minister Olmert will probably have company.

The Mayor of Ashkelon has been accused of sexual offenses and harassment of female staff members, of rape, of fraud and of bribery. What more can be added to a list of his improprieties?

With money he received in bribes from contractors seeking to build in Ashkelon, he paid hush-money to the women who brought complaints in order to buy their silence. Additionally, to the woman who accused him of rape he paid the sum of 500,000 shekels in order that she would not file charges against him.

How many more officials in our government offices will be accused of sexual offenses, bribery, fraud and crimes against the public?

Have we descended so low in our moral values that we close our eyes to the crimes of our elected officials?

What has happened to our society? External crimes of terrorism. Internal crimes of rape and deceit.

This is not the Israel of my earlier generation. This is an Israel of greed, corruption and lewdness.

Reading the newspaper today of these two situations is an omen of worse things yet to come. As long as some of our citizens think that this is proper behavior and participate in it, we will sink deeper into moral depravity. God save us from ourselves.