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The Knesset officially declares that Israeli democracy is for Jews only

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In a rare act, the Presidency of the Knesset (a ten-member group representing most parties) last week disqualified a bill moved by Israeli Palestinian parliamentarians from coming to a debate or vote. The bill in question was named “Basic Law: Israel [is a] State of All Its Citizens.”

As the names hints, the bill would have declared that Israel belongs not to its Jews but to all its residents. The Knesset Presidency decided the bill was too dangerous to come to a vote.

The bill was put forward by the Joint List, a mega-party composed of three Israeli-Palestinian parties, forced to run together because the Zionist majority hiked the percentage of votes needed for a seat in the Knesset to 4%, which none of the parties would pass on its own, in an explicit attempt to ban them.

The chances of the bill passing even a preliminary reading was slim: similar to the chance that a baked pig, an apple in its mouth, would spread its wings and fly. The following parties supported the Presidency decision: Likud, Labor, Yesh Atid, Kulanu, Israel Beteinu and Torah Judaism. A member of another party, Betzalel Smotrich of the Jewish Home (Naftali Bennett’s party), abstained, saying that even though he thought the decision was justified, he did not think the Presidency had the authority to disqualify a bill.

Together with the eight Members of Knesset of the Jewish Home, the Presidency could field 95 MKs out of 120 to vote the bill down. And yet, it was considered too dangerous to debate.

Just what was so problematic in the bill? The Knesset legal counsel, Eyal Yanon, said it clearly:

“[The bill] contains several articles which are meant to change the character of Israel from the national state of the Jewish People into a state which grants equal status, from the national point of view, to the Jewish nation and the Arab nation.”

That is, the very debate about the bill would have raised troubling questions, proving yet again that a Jewish state and a democratic one cannot co-exist. They’re a contradiction in terms. A democratic country allows for a peaceful change of its form of regime. Capitalistic Great Britain lived under a socialist government. Almost every democratic country (sorry, Switzerland!) granted women the vote in the 1910’s or 1920’s. The franchise in the US today does not resemble what it was in 1791 or even 1871. Western countries have changed – not without blood and fire, true – from a regime controlled by the upper and bourgeois classes to one that, through gritted teeth, was forced to give rights to the working classes. This came about as a result of a stubborn struggle, which often had a grassroots wing, but always had a parliamentary one.

This wasn’t so long ago: As Obama noted in his Selma March speech, the marchers were “called Communists, half-breeds, outside agitators, sexual and moral degenerates, and worse – everything but the name their parents gave them.” The Selma march was the grassroots wing; the violence used by the white regime – violence which is essential, without which, without the “grave downhill” which is necessary for “taking the top” – forced the parliamentary wing, always more hesitant and “decent”, always a few steps behind the activist wing, to accept the Civil Rights Acts.

Even though relatively passive, the parliamentary wing is critical. No peaceful change can come without it.

Now the Zionist parts of the Knesset struck down the option of parliamentary change. There can be only one regime in Israel: a Jewish one. Democracy is a surplus: in Hebrew we say “medina Yehudit ve’democratit.” A state Jewish and democratic. But the “ve” meaning “and” precedes democratic. The state’s Jewishness is essential; democracy, less so.

But what is this “Jewish state” all about? Embarrassingly, the parties which disqualified the bill can’t seem to agree on that. It’s not easy, nowadays, to know the Likud’s position; as part of its metamorphosis into the monarchical party of the House of Netanyahu, it did not publish a platform in the last two elections. But there are sharp disagreements between Lapid’s party, Yesh Atid, between Labor and the Jewish Brotherhood, and even between the placeholders MKs in Lieberman and Kachlon’s parties there are endless divisions on just what “Jewish state” means.

But on one point, all these parties can agree: Be the Jewish state what it will, whatever face it will wear, it will not be the state of the Israeli Palestinians, and its features will never reflect theirs.

Liberal Zionists have been fond, for the past 50 years, of wasting precious oxygen and time on the question whether there can be a Jewish state which is also democratic. However, in reality as it is lived, not in some ideal, Platonic plane: that is, in the reality as it is shaped by the representatives of the vast majority of Israel’s Jews, 20% of the country’s citizens may not express, in the highest forum of the body politic that calls itself Israel, their views as to the ways the country should be governed and how it would express itself to its citizens.

They can vote, yes; they can even be voted into office; but they cannot have any influence. And we allow them to be elected, more and more, because we desperately need to pretend to the world we’re not Russia, not yet anyway.

The diminishing of the rights of the Palestinians MKs is a slow, slippery process. During the two earlier Knessets, no bills were disqualified. The last time this power was used, in the 18th Knesset (elected in 2009), it was used – you guessed it – to quash two bills authored by a Palestinian MK, Ahmed Tibi. Prior to this case, no use of this power was made.

At the same time, the Knesset and its homo sovieticus chairman, Yuli Edelstein, are busy promoting the Nationality Bill, which will delimit the space allowed Palestinian Israelis even more. The Knesset has made its choice; now let it live with it.

Update: ‘Adala, a human rights organization dealing with protecting the rights of Israeli Palestinians, has petitioned the High Court of Justice, demanding it will declare the Presidency decision illegal.

 

Yossi Gurvitz
About Yossi Gurvitz

Yossi Gurvitz is a journalist and a blogger, and has covered the occupation extensively.

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28 Responses

  1. eljay
    eljay
    June 13, 2018, 10:33 am

    Israel: Jewish supremacism in/and a religion-supremacist “Jewish State”.

    • zaid
      zaid
      June 13, 2018, 4:27 pm

      meanwhile in Israel:

      Israeli lawmaker proclaims supremacy of ‘Jewish race’

      “Zohar at first denied that he had spoken about the supremacy of the “Jewish race,” but, presented with a recording of his earlier comments, doubled down and reiterated: “The Jewish people and the Jewish race are of the highest human capital that exists.”

      “What can you do? We were blessed by God… and I will continue to say that at every opportunity,” he said. “I don’t have to be ashamed about the Jewish people being the Chosen People; the smartest, most special people in the world.””

      https://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-lawmaker-lauds-supremacy-of-jewish-race/

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        June 13, 2018, 5:05 pm

        “I don’t have to be ashamed about the Jewish people being the Chosen People; the smartest, most special people in the world.”

        Yeah! And that goes for every one of the 180 million Jews on earth.

      • US Citizen
        US Citizen
        June 13, 2018, 5:54 pm

        And there you have it folks – the village idiot has spoken. Oh I’m sorry delusional simpleton, what is the fastest growing religion? Islam. Don’t look now but your ‘jewish only’ state will not last. The world’s 7 largest religions and their number of believers are:
        Christianity (2.1 billion)
        Islam (1.3 billion)
        Nonreligious (Secular/Agnostic/Atheist) (1.1 billion)
        Hinduism (900 million)
        Chinese traditional religion (394 million)
        Buddhism 376 million.
        Primal-indigenous (300 million)

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        June 13, 2018, 6:37 pm

        “And there you have it folks – the village idiot has spoken.”

        Ouch. You are right. Compared to some of those numbers, 180 million isn’t very much. I thought it was a lot.

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        June 13, 2018, 7:44 pm

        US Citizen:

        What has religion got to do with anything when Zionism is strictly about mythical racism?

      • Marnie
        Marnie
        June 13, 2018, 11:52 pm

        My that’s disgusting. This particular person claims he doesn’t have to be ashamed blah, blah, blah, then goes on to say something completely shameful, arrogant, presumptuous and horrible. And when he or she meets God, God will ask who the fuck are you now?

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        June 14, 2018, 1:56 am

        “Chinese traditional religion (394 million)
        Buddhism 376 million.”

        These are not mutually exclusive categories.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        June 14, 2018, 6:02 pm

        Anytime Judaism wants the demographic time bomb defused, just call me. Additional magnitudes are extra, of course.

      • June 18, 2018, 7:26 pm

        All I have to do is switch my religion to Judiasm to change my race and become smarter, special and chosen by God? Count me in – I’m already foreskin free!!!

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        June 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

        “become smarter, special and chosen by God”

        Helps you to pick up girls, too.

  2. Ossinev
    Ossinev
    June 13, 2018, 11:27 am

    @ejay
    “Israel: Jewish supremacism in/and a religion-supremacist “Jewish State”

    Zioland was from day one a foreign colony established by a combination of Western appeasement and Zionist terrorism and maintained and sustained by that same appeasement,active complicity on the part of a bought and bent America and of course the continuing and relentless on the ground most moral Zioterrorism. It has never been a “state” and never will be a state. In due course, and once there is a single equal rights for all the indigenous inhabitants state between the Jordan and the Mediterranean , the so called “Jewish State” will be flushed into the sewer of history just like the “National Socialist” Republic of Germany.

    By that time of course most of the colonial rats will have deserted their sinking Zioship.

    • eljay
      eljay
      June 13, 2018, 12:08 pm

      || Ossinev: … In due course, and once there is a single equal rights for all the indigenous inhabitants state between the Jordan and the Mediterranean , the so called “Jewish State” will be flushed into the sewer of history … ||

      I agree that one day – maybe a Thousand Years! from now, maybe sooner – the construct known as “Jewish State” will cease to exist.

    • Misterioso
      Misterioso
      June 14, 2018, 10:36 am

      @Ossinev

      The departure of the “colonial rats” from “Zio-land” is now a flood.

      http://www.newsweek.com/2018/0 5/18/israel-brain-drain-techno logy-startup-nation-religion- palestinians-economy-919477. html
      NEWSWEEK – 5/10/18
      “More Israelis are moving to the U.S.—and staying for good”
      “Spurred by the high cost of living, low salaries, and political and demographic trends, Israelis are leaving the country in droves.” By Yardena Schwartz

      “The available data is telling, analysts say. Between 2006 and 2016, more than 87,000 Israelis became U.S. citizens or legalized permanent residents, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. That’s up from 66,000 between 1995 and 2005. These figures take into account only those who took the legal route (many Israelis, analysts say, arrive on temporary tourist, student or work visas, then stay). And in addition to the Israelis now living stateside, according to the country’s Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, hundreds of thousands have moved to Europe, Canada and elsewhere.”

      “Israel has one of the highest poverty rates and levels of income inequality in the Western world. Meanwhile, it also has one of the highest costs of living. Tel Aviv ranks ninth among the world’s most expensive cities, higher than New York and Los Angeles; five years ago, it ranked 34th. The situation is so dire that a 2013 survey by the financial newspaper Calcalist (the most recent Israeli study conducted on this topic) found that 87 percent of adults— many with children of their own—depend on substantial financial support from their parents.”

      Also:
      https://www.haaretz.com/israel -news/.premium-jewish-agency- chief-warns-young-u-s-jews- more-turned-off-to-israel-1. 5751616

      Haaretz – Jan 22, 2018, by Judy Maltz
      “Young American Jews Increasingly Turning Away From Israel, Jewish Agency Leader Warns”
      “The Jewish Agency’s CEO and director-general called the trend ‘extremely worrisome,’ and said that a new strategy must be undertaken to engage young American Jews with Israel.”

      • Keith
        Keith
        June 14, 2018, 11:41 am

        MISTERIOSO- (Newsweek Quote)- “The situation is so dire that a 2013 survey by the financial newspaper Calcalist (the most recent Israeli study conducted on this topic) found that 87 percent of adults— many with children of their own—depend on substantial financial support from their parents.”

        Yes, but I bet that the Israeli 1% is doing just great! Talk about shared values!

  3. inbound39
    inbound39
    June 13, 2018, 12:12 pm

    In my view, there is now, absolutely no reason for any government around the World to oppose BDS action against Israel. Israel has clarified its position as being an Apartheid State. Israel now needs to be directly and vocally confronted about its declared status and action needs to be taken against it just as action was taken against South Africa. There is no further excuse World Leaders can produce for sitting on the fence……..though I am sure they will. Zionism needs to be officially declared racist and a threat to World peace and civil order.

  4. Marnie
    Marnie
    June 13, 2018, 1:00 pm

    “A state Jewish and democratic. But the “ve” meaning “and” precedes democratic. The state’s Jewishness is essential; democracy, less so.”
    So lets drop democratic once and for all as the jewish state only uses the words democratic and democracy when speaking to westerners anyway. And the way things are going, the u.s. appears to be descending into a dictatorship, so the zionist state can drop the pretense of civility, because I think that’s the way they use the word democracy, just another prop, like they use God.

    The flags are almost as hideous as the people holding them. They make me ill.

  5. Kay24
    Kay24
    June 13, 2018, 1:16 pm

    So much for the only “democracy” in the Middle East, and so much for the denials that Israel is an apartheid nation. Just like nazi Germany was for the Aryan race only. Racism stems from such policies.

  6. Stephen Shenfield
    Stephen Shenfield
    June 13, 2018, 2:12 pm

    “The bill would have declared that Israel belongs not to its Jews but to all its residents.”

    This is not quite accurate. Israel is considered to belong not just to Jews who are its citizens but to the “Jewish Nation,” which includes “Jews” (however defined) living anywhere in the world.

  7. Ossinev
    Ossinev
    June 13, 2018, 2:57 pm

    @ejay
    “I agree that one day – maybe a Thousand Years! from now, maybe sooner – the construct known as “Jewish State” will cease to exist”

    I confess to being more optimistic. The existence of Zioland in it`s current Apartheid form presupposes eternal guaranteed US support. This is no longer a given. Young Americans including young American Jews are increasingly critical of this uncritical support. There is accelerated assimilation which will in turn accelerate this criticism. The Elders of AIPAC are precisely that = Elders.,an older generation of American Zionis Jews whose corrupt Israel First influence will at some point in the near future hit the buffers.

    As for Zioland itself – the Zios themselves are effectively turning their Utopia colony into a de facto fortress and there will be a realisation at some point that this in fact is simply a self made prison and a large number of the inmates will heading for Ben Gurion to get out.

  8. inbound39
    inbound39
    June 13, 2018, 4:22 pm

    Yes Ossinev, they have merely succeded in creating a self built prison like Warsaw. The plan was always doomed to fail because they built nuke weapons and Dimona is there Achilles Heel. Only one missile needs to score a direct hit and Dimona will render Israel history.

    • Misterioso
      Misterioso
      June 14, 2018, 10:48 am

      @inbound39

      “Yes Ossinev, they have merely succeeded in creating a self built prison like Warsaw.”

      Agreed!!
      Your comment brings to mind the following prophetic words by an eminent British Jew over a hundred years ago:

      Then Secretary of State for India and the British cabinet’s only Jewish member, Lord Edwin Montagu’s response to Prime Minister Lloyd George following passage of the illegal 1917 Balfour Declaration: “All my life I have been trying to get out of the ghetto. You want to force me back there.”

  9. JLewisDickerson
    JLewisDickerson
    June 13, 2018, 6:53 pm

    RE: “The Knesset officially declares that Israeli democracy is for Jews only”

    SEE: “Another Theocracy in the Heart of the Muslim World” | by Uri Avnery | Antiwar.com | June 20, 2011

    (EXCERPTS) I am fed up with all this nonsense about recognizing Israel as the “Jewish state.”

    It is based on a collection of hollow phrases and vague definitions, devoid of any real content. It serves many different purposes, almost all of them malign.

    Benjamin Netanyahu uses it as a trick to obstruct the establishment of the Palestinian state. This week he declared that the conflict just has no solution. Why? Because the Palestinians do not agree to recognize, etc., etc. . .

    . . . In Israeli parlance, denying the “Jewish character” of the state is tantamount to the worst of all political felonies: to claim that Israel is a “state of all its citizens.”

    To a foreigner, this may sound a bit weird. In a democracy, the state clearly belongs to all its citizens. Mention this in the United States, and you are stating the obvious. Mention this in Israel, and you are treading dangerously close to treason. (So much for our much-vaunted “common” values.”) . . .

    . . . The courts favor the words “Jewish and democratic state.” But that is far from being the only definition around.

    The most widely used is just “Jewish state.” But that is not enough for Netanyahu and Co., who speak about “the nation-state of the Jewish people,” which has a nice 19th-century ring. The “state of the Jewish people” is also quite popular.

    The one thing that all these brand -names have in common is that they are perfectly imprecise. What does “Jewish” mean? A nationality, a religion, a tribe? Who are the “Jewish people”? Or, even more vague, the “Jewish nation”? Does this include the congressmen who enact the laws of the United States? Or the cohorts of Jews who are in charge of U.S. Middle East policy? Which country does the Jewish ambassador of the UK in Tel Aviv represent? . . .

    . . . Let’s go back to the beginning: the book written in German by Theodor Herzl, the founding father of Zionism, and published in 1896. He called it Der Judenstaat.

    Unfortunately, this is a typical German word that is untranslatable. It is generally rendered in English as “The Jewish State” or “The State of the Jews.” Both are quite false. The nearest approximation would be “The Jewstate.”

    If this sounds slightly anti-Semitic, this is not by accident. It may come as a shock to many, but the word was not invented by Herzl. It was first used by a Prussian nobleman with an impressive name— Friedrich August Ludwig von der Marwitz—who died 23 years before Herzl was even born. He was a dedicated anti-Semite long before another German invented the term “anti-Semitism” as an expression of the healthy German spirit.

    Marwitz, an ultra-conservative general, objected to the liberal reforms proposed at the time. In 1811 he warned that these reforms would turn Prussia into a “Judenstaat,” a Jewstate. He did not mean that Jews were about to become a majority in Prussia, God forbid, but that moneylenders and other shady Jewish dealers would corrupt the character of the country and wipe out the good old Prussian virtues.

    Herzl himself did not dream of a state that belongs to all the Jews in the world. Quite the contrary—his vision was that all real Jews would go to the Judenstaat (whether in Argentina or Palestine, he had not yet decided). They—and only they—would thenceforth remain “Jews.” All the others would become assimilated in their host nations and cease altogether to be Jews.

    Far, far indeed from the notion of a “nation-state of the Jewish people” as envisioned by many of today’s Zionists, including those millions who do not dream of immigrating to Israel. . .

    . . . We have an ongoing battle about this in Israel. Some of us want Israel to be an Israeli state, belonging to the Israeli people, indeed a “state of all its citizens.” Some want to impose on us the religious law supposedly fixed by God for all times on Mount Sinai some 3,200 years ago and abolish all contrary laws of the democratically elected Knesset. Many don’t want any change at all. . .

    . . . But a friend of mine has suggested a simple way out: the Knesset can simply resolve to change the name of the state into something like “The Jewish Republic of Israel,” so that any peace agreement between Israel and the Arab State of Palestine will automatically include the demanded recognition.

    This would also bring Israel into line with the state it most resembles: “The Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” which came into being almost at the same time, after the partition of India, after a gruesome mutual massacre, after the creation of a huge refugee problem, and with a perpetual border war in Kashmir. And the nuclear bomb, of course.

    Many Israelis would be shocked by the comparison. What, us? Similar to a theocratic state? Are we getting closer to the Pakistani model and further from the American one?

    What the hell, let’s simply deny it!

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://original.antiwar.com/avnery/2011/06/19/another-theocratic-state-in-the-heart-of-the-muslim-world/

  10. HarryLaw
    HarryLaw
    June 14, 2018, 4:24 am

    Another way of looking at it JLD is to think of the USA as the ‘white state’ or home of the ‘white people’, see how that goes down.

  11. Ampro
    Ampro
    June 14, 2018, 8:58 am

    Israel’s Declaration of Establishment, the Country’s most fundamental legal document upon which it was accepted into the Comity of Nations, clearly states, “THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the In-gathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”.

  12. Zara
    Zara
    June 14, 2018, 9:03 am

    I think Israel should send scientists across the middle east, asia minor and eurasia to sample DNA and define genetically what “Jewish” means, as well as to map the travels of the ancient tribes.

    It worked so well for the Nazis (if not for Reza Shah)….

  13. Kathleen
    Kathleen
    June 14, 2018, 10:16 am

    Maintaining, protecting and institutionalizing apartheid.

  14. just
    just
    June 14, 2018, 6:40 pm

    Fascism right here:

    “Israel to Bar Activists From Documenting Soldiers in West Bank …

    The Ministerial Committee for Legislation is expected to approve a bill on Sunday that seeks to ban documentation and distribution of any reports about confrontations between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians with the intent either to harm national security or to “break the spirit of Israeli soldiers and inhabitants.”

    The legislation, proposed by Robert Ilatov of Yisrael Beitenu, has won the support of that party’s leader, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and the Kulanu party, headed by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon.

    The proposal calls for a maximum five-year prison term for anyone photographing, recording or distributing Israel Defense Forces activity on social media with the aim of hurting the “soldiers’ spirit.” The maximum term increases to 10 years imprisonment for those convicted of seeking to harm national security.

    The wording of the bill is vague about what exactly would constitute “breaking soldiers’ spirit” and how the measure would be enforced.

    Sources involved in advancing the legislation told Haaretz on Thursday that an agreement has been reached to allow the measure to win committee approval so that it may be brought to a preliminary vote in the Knesset plenum in the coming days.

    “For many years the state of Israel has witnessed a worrisome phenomenon in which IDF soldiers are being documented,” read the bill proposal’s explainer. “Via video, stills photography and audio recordings by anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian groups such as B’tselem, the women of Machsom Watch, Breaking the Silence and various BDS groups. In many instances, these organizations spend entire days near IDF soldiers waiting with baited breath for some action they can document in a biased way in order to slander the IDF. Such documentation generally interferes with ongoing and operational IDF duties, sometimes accompanied by insults shouted at them.”

    The proposal is aimed at providing a response to such cases as Elor Azaria, the soldier filmed two years ago shooting to death a wounded and neutralized Palestinian gunman in Hebron. The incident, documented by a photographer with B’tselem, was published shortly afterwards and kindled a public debate. Azaria was convicted of manslaughter for that shooting. He served nine months in prison after his sentence was commuted, and was released a month ago.

    Sources in the Interior Ministry say they had considered applying the bill to protect police operations, but then dropped the idea. The ministry looked into the possibility of implementing a more limited ban on civilians documenting police activity only in instances where it interferes with police operations in the field, but this idea was also dropped.

    B’Tselem says in response: “If occupation embarrasses the government then it should take steps to end it. Visual documentation of life under occupation shall continue. It’s a fact of life that no stupid bill will succeed in changing.””

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israel-to-bar-activists-from-documenting-soldiers-in-west-bank-1.6176060?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    So, World, are you gonna keep calling out of control Isr a ” Western style democracy with shared values”? You gonna keep lying to yourselves (and stealing taxpayers $$$ while lying to your citizens) by doing horrible shite like arming this apartheid, fascist, murderous, nuclear- armed statei that is in daily violation of international law?

    Or are you going to sanction the heck out of this murderous, fascist, apartheid ‘state’? It’s grotesque and hypocritical in the extreme to do otherwise, but the World has been doing it for a long time! It’s an addiction, I guess. WTH “soldiers’ spirit” are you worried about? That the IOF is a state- sanctioned murder machine?

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