Saturday, December 10

Something is Rotten in the State of Israel

RAJAR, ISRAEL - AUGUST 5:    Israel's Foreign ...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
Something is rotten in the State of Israel! Are there raised eyebrows? Yes, maybe among Israel pundits in Israel and maybe in the Diaspora.

The rot is the threat to democracy as the Netanyahu ruling coalition with its undisciplined cartel of right wing extremists are coming out of the cupboard by introducing anti-democratic bills which are far from the spirit of Israel's historic Declaration of Independence.

The excuse for the introduction of these bills is to protect Israel from its enemies who are bent on delegitimizing Israel's right to exist. The definition of Israel’s enemies is becoming wider in its quasi-legal interpretation by right wing Knesset members.

NGOs (non governmental organizations) which are the watch dogs of human rights in many democracies are now under threat. There is talk of curtailing their overseas funding by limiting it to an unrealistic amount that will force them to close down.

There are a lot of new anti democratic bills in the pipeline that are threatening Israel's democracy. Discrimination against Israel's Arab population and non-Jewish citizens has already begun. The settlers in the occupied territories are gaining more and more protection by the government as the illegal settlements encroach increasingly on Palestinian lands. It has become more legitimate to make land grabs for illegal settlers. All is done in the name of maintaining the immoral occupation at all costs.

Essential organizations such as Adalah, B'tzelem, Peace Now, Mahsom Watch and many others involved in human rights activities, safeguarding minorities including Palestinians who have suffered great hardships and human rights abuses, are in danger of having their activities severely curtailed.

Over the years I have tried to avoid saying that Israel is an apartheid state with similarities to white South Africa of the past as the two situations are not the same. Today, however, it is becoming more difficult to avoid that comparison as the similarities are becoming less subtle.

Oh yes, numerous articles have been written refuting that claim. I myself had even written an article on that some years ago. However, I cannot say the same today. The articles always state that Israel's Arab citizens have their own representation of their choice in the Knesset, no segregated public amenities, equal opportunities, medical services, including hospitalization, and the list is almost endless. In white South Africa, racial segregation in public amenities and services was known as "petty apartheid". In reality, this is a misnomer because anything that is degrading racially cannot be viewed as "petty". In Israel, there is growing cancer of racism that is raising its ugly head. It has its origins in the nebulous neo-Kach factions in the Knesset of which Michael Ben Ari, Avigdor Lieberman of Yisrael Beitenu, Danny Danon (He attacks leftist politicians and is responsible for closing down the Radio Station All For Peace), Tzippi Hatovelly, Ofir Akunis of the Likud are representatives. Accompanying these "bastions of virtue", are a growing number of religious extremists who hate Arabs and a large number of right wing Israeli nationalists who spread venom against the left up to the point of death threats and "price tags".

When senior rabbis, who are respected leaders of their communities, make statements against renting apartments to Arab citizens and non-Jews in Tel Aviv, Safed, and other centres what more can we say? We have the ingredients that are the antithesis of Israel's claim to be "the only democracy in the Middle East". The problem is that there are no democracies in the Middle East. The Israel Government has the “chutspa” to criticize the Arab uprisings in their direction when they themselves are introducing anti-democratic and neo fascist legislation. There are even twinges of religious orthodox and ultra nationalist extremism that is a danger to democracy.

It is sad that Israel is slipping into the grips of fascism. It will not take long before anybody who criticizes Israel's treatment of the Palestinians and the exploitation of foreign workers will be accused of anti-Semitism and treason.

If an Arab Israeli family wishes to buy a home in a Jewish settlement within the green line, this is followed by an outcry by the majority of residents against the family and they have to appeal to the law courts to grant them the right to live in the same town with Jewish neighbors. Even one Likud Knesset member praised Senator Joe McCarthy who began a witch hunt for communists - imaginary and otherwise in the US.

Apartheid is alive and kicking in the occupied territories where Palestinians are second class citizens at best and treated as animals at worst by "Gods Chosen People" who believe that they are superior and are the parents of the loutish "hill top" youth who destroy Palestinian property and destroy their olive trees. They believe that they are carrying out God's will by settling the whole of the West Bank calling it “Judea and Samaria”. PM Netanyahu supports a two state solution in theory but he knows that it will never happen as that state is already “Judea and Samaria”.

After all, what is apartheid? It was the domination of a white minority over a black majority in South Africa of the late 1940s to the mid 1990s when Nelson Mandela was released from imprisonment.

All these undemocratic bills with their fascist overtones are isolating Israel and creating a national paranoia within Israel. The move to the right with its dangerous consequences of a growing Zionistic religious extremism will be Israel's deterioration into self righteous totalitarianism for the sake of self-preservation out of fear.

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