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Lapid admits contradiction between Jewish state and Palestinian equality

Israel/Palestine
on 19 Comments

There are two essential facts Jewish Israelis assiduously hide from the world and even from their own consciousness. The first is that during and after the birth of the state, the Israeli army forced hundreds of thousands of the indigenous Arab population to flee (a crime that was repeated after the 1967 War) and then barred their return, in direct violation of international law.  The second is that because Israel is a Jewish state, it necessarily discriminates against its non-Jewish inhabitants.  This means that Palestinians who constitute 20% of the population are second-class citizens, according to both law and practice.

Occasionally a public figure will admit to the injustice of the expulsions.  The admission never contains any expression of remorse.  It is usually accompanied by the invocation of Jewish or Zionist destiny, and the implication that this crime must be understood in the context of some greater good.  The most famous example of such an admission was Moshe Dayan’s short eulogy for Roi Rotberg in 1956.

The second-class status of the Palestinian citizens of Israel is directly addressed even less frequently than the expulsions.  Thus the Jerusalem Post’s report and the accompanying video (above) of a speech Finance Minister Yair Lapid gave at a conference on Arabs and the economy at Tel Aviv University is noteworthy both for its stark honesty and its blunt dismissal of any possible redress of Palestinian inequality.  Like Dayan, the Finance Minister forcefully acknowledges Israeli culpability but expresses no regret.   Lapid, speaking directly to the Palestinians in the audience, admits that Israeli society does not confront the issue of Palestinian inequality, but rather uses platitudes to avoid facing reality.  The Finance Minister acknowledges that there is a problem, but opines that there is no solution.  There is a solution, of course, and that is to make Israel a nation of all its citizens, but that would mean giving up  Jewish exclusivity.  This is something that Lapid will not even consider.  The best he will do is to give the aggrieved Palestinians more money and some flowery but vague words about cooperation and communality.

The contradiction between a Jewish state and equality for all Israeli citizens is not one that is understood by most in the American Jewish community.   They mistakenly think, that because Palestinians can vote and hold office there is no problem.   I hope that American Jews will listen to Lapid when he explains that there is a problem, but reject his view that there is no solution.  Our country’s civil rights movement of a half century ago can help show us what that solution would look like.

Text of the above Jerusalem Post report.

Reporter:  Israel’s definition as Jewish democratic state is a contradiction and a problem that cannot be solved, Finance Minister Yair Lapid said on Tuesday in a speech that cut deep into the fundamental problems facing Israel’s minorities.

Lapid:  The problem that has no solution is that the State of Israel is defined both by law and by a decisive majority of its citizens as a Jewish democratic state.  In encounters such as this one, we tend to hide this definition.  We prefer to emphasize the Israeli democracy, the right to vote and to be elected, the fact that we have Arab Members of the Knesset, and Arab judges and Arab officers in the army and we pretend to each other that if there is an Arab soccer player on the Israeli team, then we do not have a problem.  But there is a problem.

Reporter:  Speaking at the Prime Minister’s Conference on Arabs and the Economy at Tel Aviv University, Lapid asked how could everyone be equal before the law when the law defines Judaism as the cultural, national and legislative basis for the state.

Lapid:  We can decide, each one for himself, and all of us together that we need to focus on the problems that have solutions. That we can focus of life itself. And even our small problems are big enough.

Reporter:  The solutions include establishing strengthening local police forces to reign in crime, integrating women into the labor force and education.  He added that national service would allow them to increase services in their communities and reap the same benefits awarded to those who serve in the military.

Lapid:  Between now and 2016, we will allocate and spend about 4 billion shekels for different plans that will advance the Arab population in Israel.  As the Finance Minister, I am telling you, if there will be a need for more, we will know from where we can transfer more.

Reporter:  Lapid concluded by saying that even these solutions we will not be able to solve the unsolvable problem,  but what it can do is to open up dialog.

Lapid:  Can we, and this is the big question that will accompany our lives in this country? Can we work together on the basis of our similarities as human beings, so that we can accept one another on the basis of our differences as human beings?  I believe we can.  Thank you very much.

Ira Glunts
About Ira Glunts

Ira Glunts is a retired college librarian who lives in Madison, NY. His twitter handle is @abushalom

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19 Responses

  1. ToivoS
    ToivoS
    November 22, 2013, 5:44 pm

    That was good Ira. It is somewhat refreshing to hear directly from a mainstream Israeli these truths. However, in the US that is a reality that is so heavily suppressed. To this day we have to argue with the Hasbara brigade about all of the freedoms that Palestinians enjoy inside Israel. Just lies, lies and more lies.

    It doesn’t make any difference that Lapid is willing to say this inside Israel in Hebrew. It will not make it out to US news sources. Haaretz has been publishing much of this truth for decades now but there is no mainstream paper willing to reprint those stories.

  2. bilal a
    bilal a
    November 23, 2013, 1:40 am

    After watching what Arab liberals did in Egypt, and continue to do in Gaza, with the blessing of western liberals I might add; I’m thankful for the imperfect rights Arabs in greater Israel have, and fear for them if they are forced to live under a Western backed arab military tyranny.

    Look at the overflowing Cairo morgue.

    At least Max Blumenthal speaks out for Arab human rights, not just in Israel.

  3. Talkback
    Talkback
    November 23, 2013, 4:31 am

    I think that it is more important to deal with the second article in the Jerusalem Post which tries to counter Lapid’s argument:
    Center Field: Yes, Minister Lapid, Israel can be both Jewish and democratic
    http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Center-Field-Yes-Minister-Lapid-Israel-can-be-both-Jewish-and-democratic-330713

    • Shingo
      Shingo
      November 23, 2013, 7:39 am

      I think that it is more important to deal with the second article in the Jerusalem Post which tries to counter Lapid’s argument:

      Please don’t take anything Gil Troy says seriously. He is even further to the right and far more dishonest than Lapid.

      • Talkback
        Talkback
        November 24, 2013, 6:08 am

        I don’t take him serious Shingo, but that’s not the way to deal with his arguments who could be used by any other Hasbara clown.

        And when we just say, oh don’t take anything he says seriously, it makes the clowns even with his twisted arguments look much better than us without any arguments.

  4. a blah chick
    a blah chick
    November 23, 2013, 8:58 am

    “Can we work together on the basis of our similarities as human beings, so that we can accept one another on the basis of our differences as human beings?”

    My brain started hurting after I read that.

    Vapid Lapid should stop being so mendacious, he should just say he don’t want to lose his status as a privileged white man of the European persuasion.

    • Ira Glunts
      Ira Glunts
      November 23, 2013, 10:09 am

      @ a blah chick I could not agree more about the line you quoted above. It made my head spin also.

      The impression I took away from the speech is that Lapid did tell his Palestinian audience that he is the privileged white man in a Jewish state and there is nothing they can do about it. Thus they should be happy with some economic relief and some flowery, although meaningless words. This naked brutality is what I found extraordinary about the speech.

      Thanks, Talkback for the link to the Troy piece. I think his arguments against the contradiction between a Jewish state and a democracy are ridiculous. However, I believe his article shows that he is uncomfortable with Lapid’s brutal honesty, just as few Zionists are comfortable with the brutal honesty of Dayan’s eulogy (linked in main post).

      To put it bluntly for me Lapid is not the hero here, but the villain.

      Thanks to you and others here for giving me the opportunity to clarify this.

      • yrn
        yrn
        November 23, 2013, 11:50 am

        Ira

        I listened to all the speech in Hebrew (without the “shortcuts” of the Lady).
        It’s not just that you are having illusions of unrealistic thinking, you are looking under a magnifying glass for slime to suit your morbid thought and Agenda, you also engaged in racially driven theories in your terminology which are openly racist, linking skin colour with political stand and by far invents things that were never spoken.
        Where the hell did you take the “white man” issue ?
        I guess you link yourself to Abu Khalil and his racist remarks, regarding the white man.
        As to the comment of bilal a , who mentioned”.
        “I’m thankful for the imperfect rights Arabs in greater Israel have, and fear for them if they are forced to live under a Western backed arab military tyranny.”
        I do think as many and as Lapid, that there is still a long way to go and improve, as there is still a conflict which is unsolved and there are still difficulties, but the Israeli society knows about it , it’s an open debate, you will never ever understand.
        So go on with your routine, I would not expect more from you.

      • Shingo
        Shingo
        November 23, 2013, 8:50 pm

        Where the hell did you take the “white man” issue ?

        Probably from Eli Yishai, the interior minister, who said recently that he would use “all the tools to expel the foreigners,” claiming that “Israel belongs to the white man.”

      • thankgodimatheist
        thankgodimatheist
        November 24, 2013, 6:53 am

        “I guess you link yourself to Abu Khalil and his racist remarks, regarding the white man.”
        Are you ignorant to the point of not understanding what As’ad Abu Khalil means by “white man”? That you take it literally?!! For anyone who cared or cares reading him (and he has talked about it many times), he doesn’t mean the skin colour of a certain group but the Western man with a certain mind set and ideology and I don’t believe there’s anything racist about it. Please refrain from talking about things you totally ignore, it makes you sound like a blabbering fool.

      • Talkback
        Talkback
        November 24, 2013, 6:49 am

        Ira Glunts says: Thanks, Talkback for the link to the Troy piece.

        Thank you for your articles.

        I think his arguments against the contradiction between a Jewish state and a democracy are ridiculous.

        I think so too, but unfortunately that’s not a counter argument.

  5. eljay
    eljay
    November 23, 2013, 9:23 am

    >> Center Field: Yes, Minister Lapid, Israel can be both Jewish and democratic
    >> link to jpost.com

    Because the Jews are a people with a particular religion, Jews can establish a Jewish democratic state, just like the British, the French and others have established states expressing their particular national identity which includes a religious heritage, while following democratic processes.

    The bureaucratic nationality of citizens of and immigrants to Britain and France is British and French, respectively.

    The bureaucratic nationality of citizens of and immigrants to “Jewish State” is not Jewish. Contrary to Mr. Troy’s Zio-supremacist delusions, “Jewish State” remains, fundamentally, a religion-supremacist construct.

    • talknic
      talknic
      November 23, 2013, 11:13 am

      Because the Jews are a people with a particular religion, Jews can establish a Jewish democratic state, just like the British, the French and others have established states expressing their particular national identity which includes a religious heritage, while following democratic processes

      Uh huh. The British and French allow immigration regardless of peoples ethnic/religious background.

      Meanwhile there’s no mention of democracy in the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel. In fact it says “The state of Israel ….will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel” Deuteronomy 20 for example…. Which BTW doesn’t actually state why one would wage a war

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        November 23, 2013, 12:00 pm

        Yes indeed, it’s very strange that anyone should appeal to this document, of all things, in order to show that Judaism plays less of a part in the ideology of Israel than Mr. Lapid thinks it does.

      • Shingo
        Shingo
        November 23, 2013, 8:52 pm

        The British and French allow immigration regardless of peoples ethnic/religious background.

        The British and French also recognize the concept of nationality, because unlike Israel, they are not founded on maintaining an ethnocentric state.

    • MHughes976
      MHughes976
      November 23, 2013, 11:40 am

      Troy does not seem to question Lapid’s remark that there is no equality before the law in Israel. For L, this means that there is a contradiction between being based on Judaism and being based on democracy. T replies in two ways – that is not a contradiction, just a tension (which can be creative) and that it’s not Judaism but Jewishness – he seems to make a comparison between Anglicanism and Englishness. Well, you can call it ‘tension’ but tension is still things pulling opposite ways – and if Jewishness creates a tension that pulls the situation away from ‘democratic’ equality before the law then L’s point (whether offered regretfully or arrogantly) still stands. It may be true that where there’s a tension there can be a creative outcome, but that is just as true where there’s a contradiction, so nothing seems to be gained by the change of wording. Tension can also be very destructive and I don’t see the slightest argument on T’s part that the results have had no destructive impact. It is almost obvious that a degree of destruction has resulted.
      If Anglicanism created (I don’t really think it does) an Englishness that excluded many English residents and that exclusion created serious inequalities before the law then we would have the same problem as Israel and the problem would not be solved because it afflicted us too.
      If you’re happy with tensions then you’ve as yet no reason to worry if the tension is created by religion, so you could just expect great things of the tension between theocracy and democracy. I don’t see why T wants to insist that Judaism, or at least Judaism as it is generally interpreted in Israel, plays no part in setting up the tension. Which in any event it clearly does: if Jewishness plays an important part and Jews are a people with a religion then the religion is part of the story. If people with a different religion are in some degree excluded from Jewishness then there are problems in Israel for such people, ie an element of theocracy.
      So I don’t agree with T. I agree with one of L’s points, though – as I remember from other utterances of his – equality and all that would mean (he says) his death, so he isn’t for it.

  6. Talkback
    Talkback
    November 24, 2013, 6:51 am

    I have a technical question. Is it possible to prevent the autostart of videos? It autostarts for example, after I leave a reply or just visit this page to read the comments.

    • thankgodimatheist
      thankgodimatheist
      November 24, 2013, 7:07 am

      Talkback
      I use an add-on called Flashblock (Firefox). A video doesn’t start unless I click a button.

      • Talkback
        Talkback
        November 25, 2013, 8:57 am

        Thank you thankgodimatheist, I just realized that I could adjust my “noscript” add-on. But this is only an individual solution.

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