Thursday, March 30, 2023

Jewish Extremists Give No Phuggs About Being An Openly Ethnotheocratic Apartheid State

socialistworker  |  For most of Israel’s history the state’s fundamental contradiction didn’t much trouble its governments. The claim of democracy gave them a veneer of legitimacy. It even allowed them to justify their occupation of Palestine, their obsessive military spending funded by the US, and the wars it carries out on the US’s behalf.

But as Israel’s grip on Palestinian land has tightened, it’s been faced with an existential dilemma. Accepting the Palestinians who live there as equal citizens would threaten Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. That’s something that the “liberal” and “left” parties who once dominated Israeli politics could never accept. But they have no solution to the problem of the occupation.

They’re not willing to end the occupation of east Jerusalem and the West Bank. Nor will they give up the settlements there where hundreds of thousands of their citizens now live. But neither are they willing to abandon the pretence of being a democracy. And they cling to the false promise of a two-state solution—the lie that they will one day give Palestinians a state of their own.

The Israeli right does have a solution—but it means casting off Israel’s democratic facade. The Israeli right is much better suited to maintaining Israel’s apartheid system. They’re much more open and determined in their desire to seize all Palestinian land, and in their hatred of Palestinian people.

So as the problem of the occupation grew over the years, so too has the popularity of the Israeli right. Binyamin Netanyahu has become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister by riding that tide. In 2015, he won re-election by warning of the “threat” posed by Arab voters voting “in droves”.

Having done that, he went on in 2018 to pass a new “basic law”—fundamental legislation that acts as Israel’s constitution. This said openly that only Jewish people have “an exclusive right to self determination” there. It was designed to entrench into law the apartheid system that had for decades been an unspoken reality. 

But it also meant admitting openly, for the first time, that Israel was not a democracy for Palestinians. Now, propped up by parties even further to his right, Netanyahu’s government wants to go further. What the US, Israel’s “centrists,” and the soldiers refusing to serve really fear is that in doing so, they’ll cast off the “democratic” identity. 

With it goes the cloak of legitimacy for the apartheid system. The alternative is a single, secular state in all of Palestine, with equal democratic rights for all of its citizens. But Israel’s defenders of “democracy” would rather envisage civil war before they countenance that.

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