Israeli Nation-State Bill

NY Mayor Bill de Blasio addresses AIPAC policy conference, March 25, 2019. Screenshot from AIPAC livestream.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio gave the “simple, clear, progressive case for the state of Israel” at AIPAC this morning. He touched again and again on the Jewish history of persecution and “exclusion” and “expulsion” and never acknowledged that 750,000 Palestinians had been expelled from their lands at the birth of Israel in 1947-49. As such, his speech was a monument of Democratic denial of the Palestinian Nakba, or catastrophe. 

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivers a speech at the United Nations during the United Nations General Assembly on September 27, 2018 in New York City. (Photo: Thaer Ganaim/APA Images)

Both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly on Thursday in New York. While Netanyahu spent most of his speech boasting of Israel’s raid on an alleged secret Iranian nuclear facility, railing into the Obama-administration’s Iran deal, and criticizing Iran’s influence in Syria and Lebanon, Abbas presented a lackluster criticism of Israel, the Trump administration, and the international community.

Journalist Ben White gave a speech last week about the meaning of Israel’s new Nation State of the Jewish People law. It can only be understood as a pushback against efforts over the last two decades by Palestinian citizens of Israel to challenge Zionism, assert their national identity, mobilise against discrimination, and, critically, to demand a state of all its citizens.

The Nation-State law, when Israel officially declared itself a Jewish state, was a wakeup call to many in the Druze community, but not to members of Urfod, a group of Druze activists who have refused military conscription. Urfod member Hadiya Kayoof tells Mondoweiss, “The law showed everyone [in the Druze community] that believed in the Israeli democracy, that there is no real democracy in Israel. Its either you are Jewish or non-Jewish, and if you are non-Jewish you won’t get your rights,” she said matter of factly, “it doesn’t matter if you serve in the army or not.”

Awad Abdelfattah, an organizer with the One Democratic State Campaign, explains there is an immediate need for a bold alternative to the two-state solution, which was dealt a deadly blow by the Trump administration when it moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. And now, with the passage of the Jewish Nation State Law, an initiative for one state becomes even more urgent.