Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Israeli Democracy for Idiots

The Israeli Supreme Court rejected a decision of the Knesset barring the two Arab parties from participating in the coming Israeli national elections.

The center-left Ackerman/Yglesias team swap high-fives over this stunning proof of the health of the Israeli democracy. Ackerman:
Correcting an initial Knesset error of judgment, the Israeli Supreme Court has overturned a ban on Israeli Arab parties contesting the upcoming election. Democratic principles reinstated, abyss officially backed-away-from, sanity prevailing. Good things all around.
Israel’s Supreme Court is doing the right thing and re-instate the right of Israel’s Arab parties to contest the forthcoming Knesset elections. Obviously, I lack expertise in the fine points of Israeli law, so it’s possible that this is being wrongly decided, but it certainly looks to me like a triumph of good sense.
Very nice. What they fail to mention is that there is a range of strategies and methods for preserving the racially Jewish character of the Israeli state (Zionism for short), and this was merely an episode in the continuing struggle for maintenance of that.

Here's what a former branch head in Israeli intelligence, by the name of Shlomo Ghazit, wrote in the mass-circulation paper Maariv on Monday January 19 on this issue: He said I count myself a Zionist and I place a high value of preserving the Jewish character of the state.
And I reject absolutely the concept of making Israel a state "for all of its citizens" [his quotes]...
He says there are three basic ways that can be guaranteed, and they are as follows:
One way, and I fear that it is a method that a broad majority of the Jewish masses in Israel have faith in, is to exile [non-Jews], albeit via peaceful, political means that would prevent the majority from giving expression to this view publicly or in front of people. The appropriate solution, according to this method, would be offered by transferring the overwhelming majority of the Arab Palestinians between the river and the sea, if not all of them, to areas outside of the land of Israel (or Eretz Israel).
Those are his remarks on the first method. Note that he says he "fears that a broad majority of the Jewish masses in Israel have faith" in this strategy, suggesting he himself is perhaps not entirely in favor of it, but also that perhaps a majority are in favor of it.

The second method:
The second method is that of breaking up the connections, namely the Israeli connections with most of the areas that it occupied in June 1967. A breakup whose first and main effect would be separation from the big Palestinian bloc in the West Bank, and that in Gaza. This would represent voluntary shrinkage of Israel to within borders that would give it a reasonable chance of retaining the domestic Jewish majority. The first, important, step in this was taken by Ariel Sharon when he separated from the 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip.
So the first two methods are: get rid of the Arabs from "the land of Israel", or in the alternative have Israel retreat to a demographically safe size. The writer then moves on to the third alternative:
The third method would be the establishment of an apartheit system or racial separation in the state. This ignores the demographics and what it decides is who has the vote in the state in the face of more and more Palestinian residents, who will lose their citizenship, so that this will not be a state for the Arabs who are within it in legally in terms of location, and they will not have the right to be candidates for our legislative council. And tomorrow, presumably they won't have election rights either.
The recent Knesset decision, on barring the Arab parties from contesting the coming election, he says, was "a major step in this direction."
...and this was a decision that prepares the way and sets up a system of apartheit in Israel.

In all liklihood this will be taken up by the Supreme Court, and they will reject the decision of the Elections Committee. But the damage is already done, and it is the misfortune of a country whose Knesset votes by a big majority voting to institute apartheit, even if the decision itself will not be put into effect at the current stage.
There is enough ambiguity here to go around, but what isn't ambiguous is what he takes to be the consensus of the Jewish majority: namely that Israel has to kept under Jewish control, by one means or another. The question is how you could accomplish that with or without without instituting apartheit; with or without large-scale population-transfers; with or without shrinkage to within demographically defensible borders. To say that a court ruling against disallowing the Arab parties in the coming election constitutes "Democratic principles reinstated, abyss officially backed-away-from, sanity prevailing. Good things all around" is really not that helpful to an overall understanding of Israel and its place in the world.

The above extracts from the Maariv piece are my rendition of what the Arab-language newspaper AlQuds alArabi printed on Tuesday on its "Israeli press" page (page nine). (Pdf; you have to scroll down to page 9). Maariv makes none of its content available in English, as far as I know, and the same goes for other important Israeli publications, nor is there any attempt on the center-left or elsewhere to remedy this in any way. Such is the political climate in America that we know more about the thought patterns of crazies living in caves on the Afghan border than we do about mainstream Israeli political thinking.

They like it that way.


Blogger Mike said...

What kind of democratic state bars citizens who marry others (Palestinians) from bringing their spouses to live in Israel?

Here's how Israel treats its own citizens who protest against its policies against the Palestinians:

"During a peaceful anti-war vigil outside a Tel Aviv air force base, several members of the fire brigade turned on one protester, drenching her relentlessly with water from their hoses, before approaching her and ordering her into the station in order to "give us all head"."

And what kind of liberal democratic state needs to occupy the land of its neighbors, have all of its citizens be available to fight in the military, and take extreme measures to guarantee that the state as a whole is overwhelmingly Jewish?

I don't understand how so many Americans can unquestioningly support Israel, no matter what it does. Israel killed over 1,300 Palestinians in this latest conflict in Gaza, but it could have been 13,000, or 130,000, and the unquestioning American response would have been no different.

5:01 PM  
Blogger badger said...

I don't understand it either (although so far I have concluded that some of it has to do with organized ignorance, deliberately making the rest of the world something people don't have any consistent feelings of solidarity with)

5:28 PM  
Blogger NonArab-Arab said...

Hey Badger, Ma'ariv used to have an English edition on the web but I think it wasn't making money or something so they got rid of it. Of course we all know about Ha'aretz's English edition, and the Jerusalem Post is all English. An Israeli military honcho resident in Washington once derided my opinions as ill-informed because he thought I only followed that "left wing" Ha'aretz stuff (as if there weren't plenty of racism in Ha'aretz too, but in any case he was wrong in that I made an active effort to follow multiple sources). I suppose in trying to follow the Israeli Press without access to FBIS, there's two problems, one of which has been semi-solved and the other not: (1) traditionally you could only get the left-wing press as represented by Ha'aretz and the right-wing press as represented by the Jerusalem Post and Arutz Sheva. The vast middle of the Israeli political spectrum (though the entire spectrum is skewed to the fascist far right) was left out. Ma'ariv and Yedioth Ahronoth are the two big "centrist" papers in Israel, Ma'ariv as I mentioned no longer publishes in English so that's out, but now you have Yedioth Ahoronoth that has been available on the web in English for a long time, so one can credibly say that there is a broad sampling of the spectrum available. (2) This leaves out entirely the Hebrew universe though, both the above papers' Hebrew versions which do in fact differ in significant amounts from the English versions, and the broad range of Hebrew-only papers.

What we really need is an activist MEMRI-like instrument to expose and show opinion-shapers and policymakers the racism rampant in Israel's media. It's full of vile racist hate, and one doesn't even need to go to all the bizarre efforts the Israeli Mossad guys who run MEMRI do to find obscure unknown sources of that racism in the Israeli media.

7:41 PM  
Blogger badger said...

Any Hebrew readers about ?

7:14 AM  
Blogger badger said...

because blogspot and I guess other services can set you up with a blog in no time, and you're in business !

7:46 AM  

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