Friday, October 15, 2010

Israel: An Arab-free Jewish thuggocracy?

Israel: An Arab-free Jewish thuggocracy?
By Linda S. Heard

Oct 13, 2010,

The powers that be within Israel are showing their true bigoted racist colors. On Sunday, the Israeli Cabinet agreed to a new law obliging new non-Jewish immigrants to first swear allegiance to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state.” The concept is certainly original when one of the building blocks of democracy is equal rights for all citizens irrespective of their ethnicity or religious beliefs. Instead, the oath should surely read “a Jewish and theocratic state.”

Moreover, the law is discriminatory in that it presupposes that all Jews are inherently loyal to Israel, which is far being the case. Members of the orthodox Naturei Karta sect believe Israel’s very existence is a sin, while a large proportion of the most influential pro-Palestinian activists are Jews.

Norman Finkelstein, a Jewish political scientist and author, was barred entry to Israel because of his views and the Jewish Israeli conductor-pianist Daniel Barenboim was awarded a Palestinian passport for his support. In recent weeks, an all “Jewish boat” has made an attempt to break the siege of Gaza.

But Israel’s arrogant prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his ultra-nationalist sidekick, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, are oblivious to such criticisms. They may have feuded in the past over style but their goal is the same: A country with Jerusalem as its capital without Arabs.

Netanyahu is a smarmy consummate diplomat who has spent too much time hobnobbing with his AIPAC buddies in Washington to display his true hand. He is currently playing a skillful game of bluff with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to keep Israel’s benefactors in Washington happy.

Peace talk is cheap and, what’s more to the point, it provides Israel with time to expand its colonies in East Jerusalem and on the West Bank. Netanyahu has never supported the idea of a Palestinian state with any conviction and if one cannot be avoided, then, from his perspective, it should fit on a postage stamp, be economically dependent on Israel and militarily toothless. But even his smiles and honeyed tones cannot hide his duplicity.

Even as he is urging Abbas to return to the peace table, he knows he has injected a giant spoke in the wheel. Before there can be a settlement, the Palestinians must recognize Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state,” which they cannot do without comprising the citizenship rights of Arab Israelis and the right of return of Palestinian refugees who were forced to flee in 1948 and 1967.

Lieberman, on the other hand, doesn’t bother pretending. He wants Israeli Arabs, who make up 20 percent of Israel’s citizenry, to be stripped of their nationality and herded into any future Palestinian entity. In the meantime, he would ideally like Israel’s Arab nationals to swear an oath of loyalty to the Jewish state. How they could even consider doing that when a sword hangs over their lives and livelihoods is difficult to imagine.

In other words, he wants the original Muslim and Christian sons of the soil, whose land and autonomy was stolen from them in 1948, to bow before Judaism. This ultimate humiliation of an oppressed minority, whose members have been treated as third class citizens since Israel was born, isn’t something that should be tolerated in the 21st century. Indeed, it smacks of the Spanish Inquisition when a Catholic Tribunal ordered Jews and Muslims to convert to Christianity on pain of death or exile.

If the new loyalty oath for non-Jewish immigrants is passed by the Knesset, it will represent one step toward fulfilling Lieberman’s revolting ambition.

In truth, not all Israelis are enthusiastic about the proposed law; indeed, many consider it contemptible. Israeli actress Hana Maron joined approximately one hundred academics at a demonstration against the “continuous erosion of Israeli democracy.”

There, Maron reminded her fellow protesters of her country’s Declaration of Independence which reads the State of Israel will “ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.” “This makes me want to cry. What has become of us?” she asked.

At the same gathering, the author Sefi Rachlevsky warned that Israel is in danger of becoming a fascist state. One of the pillars of fascism is the state’s non-tolerance of cultural or ethnic minorities that cannot or will not be assimilated into the dominant community.

An Israeli educational psychologist, Professor Gavriel Solomon, said “the idea of Judenrein (Jew free zone) or Arab-rein (Arab free zone) is not new . . . Some might say, ‘How can you compare us to Nazis?’ I am not talking about the death camps, but about the year 1935. There were no camps yet but there were racist laws. And we are heading forward toward these kinds of laws . . .”

Ha’aretz columnist Gideon Levy suggests Israel should change its name to the Jewish Republic of Israel and warns his countrymen “from now on, we will be living in a new, officially approved, ethnocratic, theocratic, nationalistic and racist country.”

Levy also warns that the loyalty oath for new non-Jewish citizens could be the tip of the iceberg. “At its next session, the Knesset is to debate close to 20 other anti-democratic bills,” he writes. These include a bill for the revocation of citizenship as well as a loyalty law for Knesset members and film producers.

Unfortunately, such outrage doesn’t extend to the majority of Israelis who are either too busy with their own lives to care or too apathetic to raise their voices against looming injustice. There are also those who would be delighted to replace their Arab neighbors with “nice” Jewish ones.

Even worse, is the silence of the international community which is determined to see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil on the topic of Israel. That is a barbaric crime in itself!