Israeli intolerance: Palestinian citizens are ‘barred’ from governing coalition

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At the Daily Beast, Peter Beinart has a fine post on the haredi-secular tensions in Israel being related to the discrimination against Palestinian citizens. He avoids saying what he said at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations a month back, that Palestinians under occupation must get the vote for the government that controls their lives. But he makes the political point that I have made over and over here: that Arab parties inside Israel are excluded from governing coalitions. So of course they’re right wing. This is the Jim Crow south, this is 1964 and the Democratic Party excluding the Mississippi Freedom delegation of black delegates to the nominating convention.

And of course it is related to the exclusion of Palestinians from the armed forces. Pre-1948 U.S.

And why must Israeli prime ministers include ultra-Orthodox parties in their governments? In large measure because they will not include Israel’s Arab parties. Israel’s Arab citizens (those within Israel’s 1967 borders) can vote and elect representatives to the Knesset. But by tradition, an Israeli government cannot rely on Arab parties to stay in power. It must enjoy a Jewish majority in the Knesset. Some justify this tradition by noting that the political parties favored by Israeli Arabs are non-Zionist: they wish Israel were not a Jewish state. But, as it happens, some of the ultra-Orthodox parties that have sat in Israeli governments are non-Zionist too, since many ultra-Orthodox Jews believe that the creation of a Jewish state should await the messiah.

What gives the ultra-Orthodox the ability to oppress women, in other words, is partly a political system in which Israel’s Arab citizens are largely barred from power. What the protesters in Beit Shemesh and their supporters in the United States need to remember is the fundamental interconnectedness of equal citizenship. When you deny it to one group, you produce ripple effects that undermine the equality of others as well. Israel’s declaration of independence promises “complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of race, religion and sex.” For Israel to fulfill that promise to its female citizens, it must start fulfilling it to its Arab ones as well.

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