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Hail the Jewish State; Screw Democracy!

Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

That’s the bottom line, my friends, regarding the ‘Jewish nation-state law’ the Knesset had passed last week. You can twist it in so many ways, and amend it a hundred times more, it won’t change its premise and purpose. Because, what’s in that law when you actually read it (which I have done), isn’t so drastic on first and even second reading. It says nothing about the Arab citizens of the country being relegated to a ‘second class’ status, or about their language being relegated to a ‘second language’ (other than to say that “the state’s language is Hebrew”). Or any such wording that can bluntly be blamed for being outright racist. But it says a lot about the intent of the people who fought for this law to become a ‘basic law’ in Israel.

by Avi Katz

Case in point. But wait… just to clarify: Israel has no constitution, per se, and all attempts at creating it since independence have failed. It does have the ‘Declaration of Independence,’ signed by David Ben-Gurion and other brave men and women upon declaring independence, which until now has served as the principal document—sort of constitution for Israel and its citizens—and that among other things promised “complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants, irrespective of religion, race or gender.” This historic, monumental document—written and passed under the gathering clouds of war—is now rendered almost mute by the passing of this new, infamous ‘basic law’.

And a ‘basic law’, by the way, is sort of a constitutional law in Israel. It meant to guide the legal system and it’s more difficult to repeal than regular laws. (The last sentence in this law states that “This Basic Law shall not be amended, unless by another Basic Law passed by a majority of Knesset members.”) It is, indeed, the intent of the ‘framers’ in this case as well: To enshrine it as irreversible law. And the way Israel and its population go—i.e. right and very-right of center currently, intolerant and religiously zealot—it’s here to stay. The law’s main function and purpose is to serve as a springboard for generations to come. And for actions to come. Actions that will continue to erode the legitimacy and existence—as free, equal-right citizens—of the Arab citizens of the country, and the Druzes too, together over twenty percent of the population.

You see, what this law does—more than anything else—is giving another push, a strong, decisive one forward to the forces that oppose tolerance; oppose liberal democracy; support intolerance and even ‘fascism’ of sorts. The erosion, if you will, or the march of Israel toward an autocratic-ruled, semi-Apartheid country is being moved into high gear by this law. Which at the same time kick the ball—excuse the cliché, but I enjoyed greatly the just concluded month of the World Cup—of democracy, tolerance, equality almost out of the playing field. Time will tell, of course, but the momentum of Israel founding fathers’ endeavor, and their historic, thoughtful document is gone. Thrown by the wayside.

Now back to the above mentioned “Case in point.” I am fortunate enough to receive every Friday the e-newsletter of the ‘Consulate General of Israel to the Pacific Northwest,’ in which they tell us—Jews, Israelis—all there is to know (of course, what they want you to know) related to Israel, usually with a brush of pink color, on everything that took place the previous week. And so when I opened the latest newsletter, just a day or two after passing of the ‘nation-state’ law, I was immediately drawn to one headline, titled “Israel Is the Jewish State.” Wow… Really?!… Tell me something I don’t already know. Anyway, I follow the attached link, which opened to an article in the Wall Street Journal, titled “Get Over It—Israel Is the Jewish State.” Big deal. As if we didn’t know that already. As if before the passing of this law it was not the case. Or in doubt.

Just as was the case with the moving of the American Embassy to Jerusalem—which, by the way, has failed miserably so far to generate any other civilized nations (other than two small, bribed South American regimes) to join in—the declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was no big deal to most Israelis. We already knew that. It meant to create problems, which indeed it brought about. (The so-called Trump administration’s ‘huge, greatest peace deal of all times’ is dead before its arrival). It meant to push back the possibility of peace with the Arabs, which it has achieved spectacularly; it meant to continue the erosion of Israel as a democratic, liberal nation.

I will not go, here and now, into the details of the law—you can easily find it yourself in countless of articles online—other than to stress that it is indeed another milestone on the road to the cliff of hell. Too strong a wording, you say? Probably. But strong actions demand strong words. So let’s try it a different way: It’s as if another heavy stone has been laid on the grave of the liberal, enlightened state Herzl—the ‘visionary of the Jewish state’—and his brave, like-minded Ben-Gurion—who envisioned Israel as a liberal, democratic state for all its citizens. A “Light to the Goyim,” if you will. But no more. Screw the ideal of liberal democracy. We are living in the real, cruel world. Ideals are meant for leftists.

And by the way, here’s an anecdote, important though: Only two members of the Knesset abstained during the vote (passed by 62 to 55). One of them was Benny Begin, a member of the governing party the Likud. Even he, the son of Menachem Begin, the leader of the Irgun, the founder of the Likud, the first Prime Minister of a rightwing government in Israel, couldn’t—in all his moral consciousness, (probably hearing his father rolling in his grave—vote for this law. Not in my name.

* The “Leave a Comment” link is the last tag below, in blue.

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The Price of Victory

Katherinekiviat.com

Many words have been written last year, around the fifth of June, on the occasion of the 50-year anniversary to the Six-Day War of 1967 and its aftermath. I’m not going to add to that here again, but it is now clear for all to see that what has been predicted by some, including by yours truly for the last five years or so, including on this blog, has become a reality. That reality is the death of the Oslo Accords and the Two-State Solution, and the rise of the Bi-National state solution, the Israel-Palestine state option, or alternately the Israeli-Apartheid state option. Take your pick.

This is the price Israel is paying now for its great victory in 1967, and its inability to contain the forces—the settlers’ movement and its American Jewish backers—from exploiting that victory (in which they’d played no part.) The demise of the Palestinian-state option, existing side-by-side with Israel, will bring about a stronger, louder demand from the Palestinians to become equal citizens in the larger state of Israel, stretching from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Israel will not grant them their wish—a wish that will signal the end of Israel as a Jewish state—and instead will try to contain them forever in a ‘limited autonomy,’ a ‘state minus,’ call it what you will. Bantustan-like territories is what I call it.

The world—other than America, at least as long as this president is in charge—won’t stand for it, and Israel will end up being a pariah state among the nations. Just read this quote: “Victory isn’t about lining up behind a specific final-status deal, but rather convincing the other side to accept the country’s existence as a Jewish state, while also demonstrating that there are core issues where Israel simply won’t negotiate… The political tools for trying to coerce ‘defeat’ out of the Palestinians are readily available, even if it’s far from obvious what their actual impact would end up being.”

I’m going to tell you what “their actual impact would end up being.” But before I do that, l’m going to tell you who’s the author of the above quoted statement. It was issued in November 2017 by a joint group of ‘members of the Knesset Israel Victory Caucus,’ and members of the ‘Congressional Israel Victory Caucus on Capitol Hill.’ As reported in Tablet Magazine by Armin Rosen on November 17, the Knesset ‘Victory Caucus’ has 16 members from across the spectrum of Zionist parties, and the American version counts 32 members of Congress, the majority of whom are Republicans. They are committed, according to my understanding of their aims and statements, to solidify Israel’s victory by all means necessary, coercing the Palestinians into acceptance of Israel’s terms-of-victory, while giving them peanuts in return.

As the past few weeks prove, since the Trump’s announcement of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, it won’t work. If nothing else, the Palestinian people are proud people. As their leader Abbas just said: “Jerusalem is the diamond in the Palestinian crown.” Now, with Netanyahu behind it all, the American administration—led by people without any understanding of the complexity of the issues at hand—tried, with some surprising assistance from Saudi Arabia and maybe even from Egypt, to coerce the Palestinians into accepting a solution of ‘state minus.” Of being ‘second class’ people and nation. The Palestinian leadership, with Abbas at its head, gave a fiery response this week, which already has proven them totally wrong. And will prove them wrong eternally.

You see, Israel—with the support of the Americans—will have the upper hand militarily. No doubt about that. And the fact that there was no major resistance (i.e. Intifada) to the ‘Jerusalem Declaration,’ other than youth throwing stones and burning tires, is a good indication of that. Militarily, Israel has won. Morally though, it’s going to lose. Because the dilemma the Palestinians’ refusal to accept surrender means the end of the Zionist dream in its original intent. If the country is not majority Jewish, or if the country is not a democracy, then the dream is gone.

This is the big conundrum. Put it another way: A victory doesn’t necessarily mean vanquishing and humiliating the enemy entirely, capturing its country forever and wiping its entity off the map. The Russian-Soviets had tried that in Eastern Europe and failed. The Americans and British knew better, and had been proven correct. But Israel, it seems, is refusing to learn this lesson. Most tragically, refusing to learn from its own long history. I don’t proclaim to know exactly how it would end. It might take a few more generations to sort itself out. But the collapse, the defeat—of the Zionist dream, in its purest form—is written in large letters and murals on the wall of victory.

* The “Leave a Comment” link is the last tag below, in blue.

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