The illusion of Israeli democracy

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It’s impossible not to admire a journalist like Tsafi Saar. She speaks with force and clarity and, most importantly, she speaks as an Israeli.

The first step to inaugurating real change is to unmask the illusions that hold the current reality in place. Israel is a democracy for Jews only. Until this truth is exposed justice will always elude us.

Father Dave

Tsafi Saar

Tsafi Saar

source: www.haaretz.com…

We can’t lose a democracy we never had

The illusion of democracy in Israel is just one of the many illusions that we Israelis have been educated to believe.

By Tsafi Saar – Aug. 4, 2013

Many dirges have been heard lately lamenting the death of democracy on account of the governability law that passed its first reading in the Knesset this past week. There is reason to lament; it is indeed a bad and dangerous piece of legislation. But for something to die, it must have once lived. Has there been democracy in Israel before the governability was passed? The answer is no. For Israel’s entire 65-year existence it has not been a democratic state. From its founding until 1966 Israel imposed martial law on the Arab communities in its territory. Since the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1967 until today, Israel has ruled over millions of Palestinian inhabitants in these territories – an occupied population with its basic freedoms and rights abrogated.

There has been an illusion of democracy here, or alternatively, a democracy for Jews only. This of course is a contradiction in terms. This is just one of the many illusions, which we Israelis have been educated to believe. It isn’t easy to discover how much of life and education here are full of indoctrination, because lightly scratching the surface reveals what is just a cover for an entirely different reality. Some of us discover this at an early age, others later. There are also those who will never discover this, perhaps they would even prefer not to see it.

Among the prominent examples are myths like “making the desert bloom,” or the statement, “A land without a people for a people without a land” – basic concepts in Zionism that express a worldview that ignored the land’s inhabitants. There is “Hebrew labor,” the aspiration that Jews who settled the land would work with their own hands instead of managing others, which is perceived to be something positive until we understand that it means excluding native Arabs from work. Another phenomenon placed on a pedestal is the revival of the Hebrew language. While it was a blessed miracle, it also was enabled by the pushing aside of many other languages as well as other cultures, not infrequently with violence – and this already sounds less heartwarming.

There are also clichés like “our hand is outstretched in peace,” as our politicians are wont to say while they are still polishing up ruins. In other versions, still in use today, there are mantras like “no partner for peace.” And who can forget “the world’s most moral army”? The same army that just recently detained a 5-year-old Palestinian child for investigation, and the state that plans to evict 1,300 Palestinians from their homes in the south Hebron hills to save time and resources, just to mention two examples among countless others.

These are bothersome thoughts. Is it possible that everything we were raised on, or at least most of it, is mistaken? What is the significance of this? And does asking these questions undermine the fact of our existence of here? If our existence here must be based on a strong fist, on pushing out others, on nationalism, chauvinism and militarism, then the answer is yes. But is this really the case?

In the history of Zionism there were other options besides that of Ben-Gurion-style force. For example, the path shown by professors Zvi Ben-Dor Benite and Moshe Behar in their recently published book “Modern Middle Eastern Jewish Thought: Writings on Identity, Politics, and Culture.” Jewish intellectuals of Middle Eastern origin at the beginning of the 20th century warned against adopting a European arrogance to the land’s inhabitants and called for respectful dialogue with them. But their words fell on deaf ears. The Brit Shalom faction of Hugo Bergmann and Gershom Scholem also proposed another way in the 1930s that was not accepted.

The state established here was not, despite its pretensions, “the sole democracy in the Middle East.” It appears that the first condition for really fixing this situation, if that is still possible, is the recognition that we did not lose democracy now. It never resided here.

Comments on The illusion of Israeli democracy Leave a Comment

August 6, 2013

Eileen Fleming @ 2:10 pm #

 “The terms ‘democracy’ or ‘democratic’ are totally absent from the Declaration of Independence. This is not an accident. The intention of Zionism was not to bring democracy, needless to say. It was solely motivated by the creation in Eretz-Isrel of a Jewish state belonging to all the Jewish people and to the Jewish people alone. This is why any Jew of the Diaspora has the right to immigrate to Israel and to become a citizen of Israel.”– Ariel Sharon, May 28, 1993.

“An ethnocracy is the opposite of a democracy, although it might incorporate some elements of democracy such as universal citizenship and elections. It arises when one particular group-the Jews in Israel, the Russians in Russia, the Protestants in pre-1972 Northern Ireland, the whites in apartheid South Africa, the Shi’ite Muslims in Iran, the Malay in Malaysia and, if they had their way, the white Christian fundamentalists in the US-seize control of the government and armed forces in order to enforce a regime of exclusive privilege over other groups in what is in fact a multi-ethnic or multi-religious society. Ethnocracy, or ethno-nationalism, privileges ethnos over demos, whereby one’s ethnic affiliation, be it defined by race, descent, religion, language or national origin, takes precedence over citizenship in determining to whom a county actually ‘belongs.'”–Page 74, “An Israeli in Palestine: Resisting Dispossession, Redeeming Israel” by Professor Jeff Halper, American Israeli, co-founder and coordinator of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

Another illusion that needs to be shattered is US collusion in Israel’s Nuclear Deceptions and WHY Mordechai Vanunu is still seeking the RIGHT to leave Israel 9+ years after emerging from a windowless tomb sized cell–convicted of treason and espionage BUT all he did was tell all the truth he knew as a mid level technician on the night shift within Israel’s 7-story underground WMD facility, which he has not set foot into since he quit in 1985.

PLEASE learn more at TNT/Telling Nuclear Truths:
www.causes.com…

August 14, 2013

jgarbuz @ 2:27 am #

@Eileen Fleming:

Another ugly, self-hating, leftist Jew.

The Jewish people were dispossessed of their homeland by non-Jewish occupiers, and thankfully much of it has been liberated and repossessed. Where are the Jews in the Arab countries? Where are their lands and possessions? Where are the Jews of Poland? The Land of Israel, or Eretz Yisrael in Hebrew, is the Jewish homeland. It was legally recognized as such by the Council of the League of Nations in 1922. It is not Arab land, but rather Jewish land that was occupied by Arabs. Despite all, Israel established the first democratic state in the Middle East, which it remains. It never put Arabs into concentration camps despite being attacked on all sides by Arabs. Despite the fact that over 856,000 Jews were hounded out of the Arab countries leaving almost none behind. Israel is a shining star in a region of darkness and barbarism. Thank God for Israel.

August 7, 2013

Roy Hayes @ 2:11 am #

Thanks to Tsafi and thanks to Eileen. I agree with both of you. Folks with true insights strengthen my hope. I would like to add: Mideast Peace = Peace of Jerusalem = World Peace.

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