is Preferable to the Platitudes of Liberal Zionism
|7,000 Protestors in Tel Aviv demonstrating against Jewish nation state bill – only 1% of Tel Aviv’s inhabitants are Arabs|
I realise that this may shock some of my friends. Why, some
may ask, would someone whom the Jewish Chronicle calls
a veteran Jewish anti-Zionist
and whom the President of the Board of Deputies attacked for his ‘long record
of noxious behavior’ support Netanyahu’s flagship policy of legislative apartheid?
Nation State Bill is racist and it is an official declaration that Israel
is an apartheid state. However I prefer that Israel openly admits to what kind
of state it is rather than hiding behind circumlocutions such as ‘The only democratic state in the Middle
East’ or ‘a Jewish democratic state.’
[As an Arab, I Support Israel’s Jewish
Nation-state Bill] when I say that I prefer the enemy who is an honest
racist rather than one who speaks of equality and practices discrimination.
state. I stand by what I wrote.
Which was more preferable in South Africa?
The hidden apartheid of Jan Smuts before 1948 or the open apartheid of
Dr Malan and the Nationalists after 1948?
Jewish Leaders Warn Israel Against Passage of Nation-state Bill Allison Kaplan Sommer and Bar Peleg argue that the Bill, ‘would prioritize
Jewish values over democratic ones.’
state? Isn’t that what it has always done? When given the choice between the Democratic
and the Jewish road Zionism has always chosen the latter.
controversial clause, which would permit the establishment of communities that
are segregated by religion or nationality, was criticized
last week by President Reuven Rivlin. Perhaps President Rivlin knows something that I don’t.
Haven’t Jewish only communities always been the norm in Israel? How many Arabs have
belonged to the Jewish only kibbutzim or moshavim? One I believe in over a
century. Or the hundreds of Jewish-only communities that have been established
in Israel post-1948. Did Rivlin call for disbandment of the Jewish National
Fund whose sole purpose is to ensure that 93% of Israeli land is reserved for
the use of Jews? Have any of the left Zionist parties, from the Israeli Labour
Party to Meretz called for the winding up of the Jewish Agency and the repeal
of the 1952 Jewish Agency Status Law?
|To be a member of Mitzpe Aviv you have to undergo an ideological purity test and affirm you are a Zionist – which is one way to keep out Arabs|
Supreme Court not rule in 2000 in Ka’adan
against the practice of refusing Arabs admission to Jewish only communities and force Katzir to accept the
Kaadan family? Was the response of the Knesset not to pass the Acceptance
Committees Law which effectively overturned Ka’adan,
with the blessing of the Supreme Court? Of course this law did not specifically
mention that Arabs were not acceptable. It merely allowed the Committees to adopt
whatever criteria they liked to in order to preserve their ‘character’. So
settlements like Mitzpe Aviv, Manof and Yuvalim, require
prospective members to declare that they believe in the values of Zionism,
Jewish tradition and Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, something which
most Arabs find a little difficult!
Beeri-Sulitzeanu, the Director of the Abraham Fund Initiatives,
wrote an article Segregation of Jews and Arabs in 2010
Israel Is Almost Absolute describing how the innocuously titled Amendment
to the Cooperative Associations Bill, was about to be passed by the Knesset.
Its purpose being to bypass the ruling in Kaadan. Amnon wrote of how:
almost absolute. For those of us who live here, it is something we take for
granted. But visitors from abroad cannot believe their eyes: segregated
education, segregated businesses, separate entertainment venues, different
languages, separate political parties … and of course, segregated housing. In
many senses, this is the way members of both groups want things to be, but such
separation only contributes to the growing mutual alienation of Jews and Arabs.
to Rabbi Gilad Kariv, CEO of the Israeli Reform movement ‘the nation-station bill is going to tarnish the Israeli law book.’ This
is a law book that includes, according to Adalah, over 65 racist and
discriminatory laws. Apparently it is going to be tarnished by this one
law. Surely this is a cause for
Kariv not heard of the 1950 Law of Return which grants me, the right to
‘return’ to a land I have only visited once but denies that right to
Palestinians whose families since time immemorial resided in Palestine? Or perhaps the good rabbi has not heard of
the 1950 Absentee Property Law which allowed property belonging to Arabs, even
if they were in Israel during its War of Independence, to be confiscated and
its owners to be classified as the Orwellian Present Absentees’?
Sokatch, CEO of the New Israel Fund the bill is a ‘danger to Israel’s future’.
How can this be? What Sokatch
means is that the Bill is a threat to the Jewish nature of the Israeli
state. It helps reveal the racist structure
behind the democratic facade. Sokatch recited a familiar fairy tale.
the equality of all people have formed the democratic foundation of the state.
This law is completely incompatible with those values. It … provides a legal
basis to discriminate based on religion, race and sex.”
Declaration of Independence is a favourite with liberal Zionists. The only
problem is that it has never been incorporated into law. Not by Mapai nor by Likud.
have guessed that at the very moment that David Ben Gurion was reading out these
noble sentiments over 300,000 Arabs had already been expelled from their homes
and villages and that another half million were destined to share the same fate,
accompanied by up to 30 massacres? That Israel’s Arab population would continue
to live under military law until 1966?
Bill is welcome if only in order to lay Sokatch’s myths to rest. To bury the lie about Israel’s formation. The
Declaration of Independence waxed lyrical about developing Israel ‘for the benefit of all its
inhabitants’ and a state ‘based on freedom, justice and peace’ which would ‘ensure complete equality of social and
political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex’
as well as being ‘faithful to the
principles of the Charter of the United Nations.’ It can be safely said
that all this and more was honoured in the breach.
there is one thing at which Zionism excels it is public relations. It has long
since mastered the art of saying one thing and doing another. If only half its pious
declarations had been put into practice then Israel would indeed have become a
light unto the nations. Instead we have to be content with the dark deeds of half-century’s
Arab citizens enjoyed none of the rights that Ben Gurion talked about in the
Declaration. On the contrary the Israeli Labour Party (Mapai) government
proceeded to enact a series of racist laws whose purpose was to legalise the
theft of their land.
Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, explained
the motivation behind his criticism. The
Jewish Nation State Bill “will make
Israel an open target on the world stage for all those who seek to deny the
Jewish people our right to a homeland.” Precisely. His criticism is made in defence of the
status quo in Israel not in order to change that status quo.
words his real concern is that the Bill will make explicit that which has
always been implicit. When Rabbi Jacobs speaks of denying Jews their ‘right to a homeland’ what he really
means is their right to continue to colonise Israel and Palestine. Because I and millions of Jews in the
diaspora already have a home. It is
where we live – in Britain, America, France etc. We do not need a second home
when Palestinians are being thrown out of their only home. The ‘Jewish people’,
a construction of anti-Semites and Zionists through the ages, does not need a
Jewish state. What would be of benefit though is that in the 21st
century the Israeli state normalises itself and transforms itself from a State
of the Jews to a State of its own people. Ethno- nationalist states died out in
the Europe of the 1930’s and 1940’s with the defeat of fascism. It was only in places like Israel and South
Africa that such a political formation survived.
Jacobs complains that the Bill ‘hurts
the delicate balance between the Jewish majority and Arab minority’ he is
engaged in sophistry.
What balance would that be? The balance that led to the uprooting and
demolition of the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran
in the Negev in order to make way for the Jewish town of Hiran? Or perhaps he
means the edict of Shmuel Eliyahu,
Chief Rabbi of Safed, forbidding Jews to rent apartments to Arabs? Perhaps this
‘delicate balance’ was evidenced in the freezing
of plans for expansion in Kfar Vradim after Arabs were successful in nearly
half the bids for new housing? Or was it the demonstrations
in Afula after an Arab family successfully bought a house there?
groups making up the Jewish Federation of North America argued that the Bill would eliminate “the defining characteristic of a modern
democracy” such as ‘protecting rights
for all.’ The problem is that the rights of Israeli Arabs have long since
history of the Israeli state just one Jewish demonstrator has been killed by the
Police (in 1951) but the police have repeatedly killed Arab demonstrators. Jewish
stone throwers are never shot at, Arab demonstrators are invariably gunned
Hiran last year, who was left to bleed to death, was particularly
egregious. In any normal democratic state the village would not of course have
been demolished. The police firing on an innocent man would have led to a judicial
inquiry. Instead the murdered man was first demonised as an ISIS terrorist by Interior
Minister Gilad Erdan and when it was proven that the policeman who died was
killed as a result of Yakub Musa losing control of his car, after having been
shot, there was a cover up. The life of Arabs in the Israeli state is cheap
compared to Jewish life.
aroused the ire and anger of the major American Jewish organisations is not the
systematic discrimination that Palestinians, have suffered. Their real concerns are for the damage that is
being caused to the reputation of Israel by Netanyahu’s open racism.
Jewish Federation’s objection is not to separation and segregation but to writing
this segregation down in law. From schooling to maternity wards, Israel is
a segregated society. It is a society where an Arab poet Dareen Tatour can be arrested
and gaoled for writing a poem yet the leader of Lehava, Benzi Gopstein remains
free despite threatening to burn
down churches and mosques. Israel is a society where the leader of the Northern
Islamic Leagues, Raed Salah can be gaoled on disputed evidence for alleged
incitement yet the authors of Torat HeMelech which
explains how to kill non-Jews legally, according to halachah, remain at
therefore to be regretted that the clause which sanctioned Jewish only
communities has been replaced
with a clause calling for ‘strengthening
the Jewish presence in predominantly Arab Israeli areas.’ The latter refers
to the policy of Jewish only settlement, Judaisation, of areas such as the
Negev and Galilee, where there are too many Arabs. However is it not better to spell this out?
Jewish Nation State Bill offers unprecedented clarity as to the reality of what
a Jewish state means in practice. That
is why the Jewish Federation of North America, which has not been known for
championing the rights of Palestinians took fright at the Bill. We should not be afraid.
also printed as Clarity
as to the reality in Weekly Worker Issue 212.
Rabin Square to an ’emergency rally’ to protest the bill ■ New Israel Fund CEO:
‘This is tribalism at its worst’
Jewish leaders, alarmed by the prospect of the controversial nation-state Basic
Law, have intensified their lobbying efforts, strongly urging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reconsider his
government’s desire to pass it in the Knesset this week.
Silverman, president of the Jewish Federations of North America, was expected
to arrive in Israel Sunday to express his organization’s concerns to top
on Saturday night, meanwhile, some 7,000 demonstrators marched from Rabin
Square to an “emergency rally” at the intersection of Dizengoff and Bar Giora
streets, where they listened to speeches by politicians and social activists.
Israel Fund took part in the rally – organized by a number of Israeli advocacy
organizations, as well as groups affiliated with the Meretz, Hadash, Ta’al and
Labor parties – to protest what it called a “racist, discriminatory”
which would have a Constitution-like status, would prioritize Jewish values over
democratic ones in the state. One controversial clause, which would permit the
establishment of communities that are segregated by religion or nationality,
was criticized last week by President
participating in the protest were several Israeli lawmakers: Ayman
Odeh, who chairs the predominantly Arab Joint List, slammed the bill
as a “law whose purpose is to stick a finger in the eyes of a fifth of
Israel’s population, spark a dispute and polarize in order to make political
gain for the Netanyahu tyranny.”
the demonstration, Odeh said that “in a government that has lost all
shame, that fears its own shadow, the majority tramples the minority,
legislation is racist and the democratic space is under constant threat.”
Zandberg, who heads Meretz, charged that Netanyahu’s government was attempting
to push the law through in order to distract Israelis from the dire situation
in the Gaza Strip.
we see what happens when the government doesn’t have a solution facing
Gaza – all it can offer are racist laws,” she said.
Kariv, CEO of the Reform Movement in Israel, echoed the criticism, blasting the
bill as “contemptible.”
real score we need to settle is with those elected by the public [Knesset
members] who know deep inside how much the nation-state bill is going to
tarnish the Israeli law book – and remain silent nonetheless,” he
a growing number of American Jewish leaders issuing strong public statements
against the bill, calling it a “danger to Israel’s future.”
tribalism at its worst,” said Sokatch. “Beginning with Israel’s Declaration of
Independence, the Jewish value of human dignity and the principle of the
equality of all people have formed the democratic foundation of the state. This
law is completely incompatible with those values. It is a slap in the face to
Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel and provides a legal basis to discriminate
based on religion, race and sex.
sexism and religious fundamentalism are to be protected in Israel’s Basic Laws,
it should be no surprise when the country embodies those values,” he
added. “This bill and the government that supported it are a danger to
Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, also spoke out, saying that
such a law “will make Israel an open target on the world stage for all
those who seek to deny the Jewish people our right to a homeland.
it will create a dangerous precedent for democracy in Israel,” said Jacobs in a
statement. “It is a 180-degree turn from Israel’s Declaration of Independence,
which enshrines freedom and democracy for all Israelis. This bill would instead
upend democratic norms and create an Israel that is unequal. It is a grave
threat to Israeli democracy,” Jacobs added.
the bill both “hurts the delicate balance between the Jewish majority and Arab
minority, and it enthrones ultra-Orthodox Judaism at the expense of the
majority of a pluralistic world Jewry.”
Jewry, he added, was “vehemently opposed” to the bill and vowed to fight it
14 American Jewish organizations directed their deep concerns about the bill to
incoming Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog, who still serves as leader of the
Opposition in the Knesset.
organizations said the bill would eliminate “the defining characteristic of a
modern democracy” – protecting rights for all. Instead, its letter said,
“this bill would remove that democratic basis and give constitutional
protection to policies that could discriminate against minorities, including
women, Palestinian citizens, racial minorities, LGBT people, non-Orthodox Jews,
Muslims, Druze, Christians and others.”
was signed by the New Israel Fund, J Street, T’ruah, Americans for Peace Now,
Ameinu, Aytzim’s Green Zionist Alliance, Habonim Dror North America, Hashomer
Hatzair North America, Keshet, the National Council of Jewish Women,
Reconstructing Judaism, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, Right Now:
Advocates for Asylum Seekers in Israel, and Tivnu: Building Justice.
Policy Forum “urged” the Netanyahu government to “drop the bill entirely, or,
failing that, to at least amend it, excising any discriminatory elements while
incorporating elements that reinforce Israel’s democratic character, without
groups – the Anti-Defamation League and J Street – had expressed early opposition to the bill when it was
approved by a ministerial committee to return to the Knesset floor for consideration.
Law will ‘reveal ugly face of ultranationalist Israel in
all its repugnance’, professor says
upheaval as the country’s ruling party seeks to pass legislation that could
allow for Jewish-only communities, which critics have condemned as the end of a
past half-decade, politicians have been wrangling over the details of the bill
that holds constitution-like status and that Benjamin Netanyahu wants passed this month.
proposed legislation would allow the state to “authorise a community composed
of people having the same faith and nationality to maintain the exclusive
character of that community”.
current state, the draft would also permit Jewish religious law to be
implemented in certain cases and remove Arabic as an official language.
Israeli democracy, we will continue to protect the rights of both the
individual and the group, this is guaranteed. But the majority have rights too,
and the majority rules,” the Israeli prime minister said this week.
on the bill is expected next week, although a final draft has yet to be agreed
on. The legislation has been compared to South African
Israeli parliamentarians, and several thousand Israelis protested in Tel Aviv
Middle Eastern country sees itself as both a democratic and a Jewish state,
saying its legal system protects the rights of Arabs, who make up more than a
fifth of the population, and other minorities. However, the “Israel as the
nation state of the Jewish people” bill would enshrine the country’s Jewish
national and religious character into law.
main concern is that it is changing the nature of the state and it changes the
balance of Israel as a nation state,” said Amir Fuchs, the head of the
defending democratic values programme at the Israel Democracy Institute. “You
can be a nation state and still be a democracy as long as you don’t
discriminate,” said Fuchs. “That the state is allowed to create villages that
will separate on the basis of race or religion or nationality – this is outrageous.”
purpose of the bill, he said, was “to change the balance, to make us more of a
nation state, more of a Jewish state, and less of a democracy. There is no
other way to put it. And this is the biggest problem.”
has lashed out at domestic and international critics, ordering the foreign
ministry to reprimand the EU envoy Emanuele Giaufret after he was reported as
saying the bill was discriminatory.
Israel’s attorney general and president, who holds a symbolic role, also
opposed details of the bill. The president, Reuven Rivlin, said it would harm
the Jewish people worldwide and “even be used as a weapon by our enemies”. The
segregation clause, he said, could also allow towns that exclude Jews of Middle
Eastern origin – who have been historically sidelined – or homosexuals.
Miki Zohar, from the prime minister’s Likud party, said: “Unfortunately,
President Rivlin has lost it” and had “forgotten his DNA”.
Israeli neighbourhoods and towns are already effectively segregated, with
residents either vastly Jewish or Arab. In many places, it is tough for an Arab to move in, although
segregation is not legal.
in the progressive-leaning Haaretz newspaper, Mordechai Kremnitzer, from the
faculty of law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said the bill would “remove the mask so as
to reveal the ugly face of ultranationalist Israel in all its repugnance”.
debate has also opened a rift with the Jewish diaspora, with fears among more
liberal American Jewish groups that it would prioritise Orthodox communities
over other denominations.
Rick Jacobs, the president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said the bill was a
grave threat to Israeli democracy and hurt “the delicate balance between the
Jewish majority and Arab minority, and it enthrones ultra-Orthodox Judaism at the expense of the majority of a
pluralistic world Jewry”.
Sokatch, the chief executive of New Israel Fund, which supports civil rights groups in Israel,
decried the bill as “tribalism at its worst”.