The reaction of the international public opinion to a bill proposed by the Israeli government, which would enshrine a subtle form of apartheid, has been very weak. It was not too alarmed by the fact that life in Israel has already become a constant habit of discrimination and racism.
The law, called “the law of the nation,” was proposed by Representative Avi Dichter of the Likud. It was endorsed on Sunday by the Ministerial Legislative Committee and is being reviewed by the Knesset.
Dichter, former commander of Shin Bet (secret services), had already proposed the law in the past, as a MP for Kadima, when the party was led by Tsipi Livni.
The law refers to well-known issues. In 1948, the U.N. sanctioned the creation of a Jewish state. The Holocaust was recent and was very present in the minds of people. Many of those who died in the war of independence were people who had survived the death camps.
The declaration of independence, which ensured a reliable refuge for all Jews, at the same time guaranteed equality and democracy for all the inhabitants of the country, regardless of their origin and religion. But in 1967, the occupation of new territories meant a very different reality for millions of Palestinians; the military occupation of their land stripped them of political and human rights.
Soon, it will be the 50th anniversary of the occupation. The newly proposed law is the corollary of a gradual destruction of the democratic fabric of Israeli society. It aims to affirm and legalize the “national characteristic of the state of Israel as a special right of the Jewish people,” which means purely and simply to disregard or deny the civil rights of all those who are not Jews.
In recent years, the erosion of democracy — let’s remember the old tune of the “only democracy in the Middle East” — has had a marked acceleration. Day after day, the war against Israeli organizations committed to human rights and democracy, and against the occupation, has intensified.
The decisions against these groups increase and, in some cases, they not only have the support of the coalition of religious fundamentalists and fascists, but the “center” opportunists, like the Labor party and Lapid, fall in line with anti-Arab and anti-Islamic hysteria. Now, they are all terrorists who threaten us.
But the war against democratic rights and delegitimization of the opposition, represented by the few Israelis who still make their voices heard, is strengthened when it comes to the Palestinians, either in Israel or in the occupied territories.
The law passed by Parliament a few months ago — which is still waiting for validation of the Supreme Court — has established the legitimacy of the theft of Palestinian land.
To put it simply, according to the “legal” terminology, it is now possible to confiscate Palestinian lands, even if they were mistakenly occupied by settlers if the occupant proves he needs it somehow.
The attorney general was opposed to the government because he believes this law is unconstitutional; the government will be defended by a well-known and respected lawyer… who is building a new home without permission in the occupied territories!
The new law proposed by the government is merely a prologue: It is not only intended for the Palestinian citizens in Israel; the real objective of the government is to impose this system in the territories occupied by Israel.
The annexation of the territories, advocated by the radical right, would add to the population of the Jewish state millions of Palestinians to whom, given the prevailing racism, it would be impossible to grant equal rights.
The de facto apartheid will in fact become, with the new law, a legal apartheid. This is not just a legal change or the issue of official languages.
This is important, but it is secondary to the essential question: Israel, which discriminates in many ways against its citizens of Palestinian nationality and subjects millions of other Palestinians to a violent occupation, will formalize this situation.
To summarize: 80 percent of Israelis will be privileged citizens in a “democratic state”; the remaining 20 percent will be citizens “accepted out of necessity,” and millions more will be the new subject of apartheid in its current pseudo-democratic manifestations.
The “law of nation” is not just apartheid in Israel. It is a veiled announcement of the legal construction that will facilitate the annexation of the territories occupied in 1967 and will destroy the tenuous possibility of reaching an Israeli-Palestinian agreement peace.
That’s a real public confession, which probes the opinion of the international community. The world has accepted many of our violence because we are “victims of terrorism.” We see now how it will treat this confession of official and “legal” discrimination. A prelude to the annexation of the occupied territories.
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