Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Demographics and democracy

Ilan Pappe on the Israeli ‘democracy’:

“On 31 July 2003, the Knesset passed a law prohibiting Palestinians from obtaining citizenship, permanent residency or even temporary residency when they marry Israeli citizens. The initiator of the legislation was a liberal Zionist, Avraham Poraz of the centrist party Shinui. He described it as a ‘defence measure’. Only 25 members of the Knesset opposed it and Poraz declared that those already married and with families ‘will have to go to the West Bank’, regardless of how long they had been living in Israel.

The Arab members of the Knesset were among those who appealed to the Supreme Court against this racist law. When the Supreme Court turned down the appeal, their energy petered out. The Arab members come from three parties: the Communist Party (Hadash), the National Party of Azmi Bishara (Balad) and the United Arab List drawn up by the more pragmatic branch of the Islamic movement. The Supreme Court ruling made clear their irrelevance, in the eyes of both the parliamentary and judicial systems. We’re always told that Palestinians should be pleased to live in the only democracy in the region, to have the right to vote, but that vote brings no power.

In the dead of night on 24 January this year, an elite unit of the border police seized the Israeli Palestinian village of Jaljulya. The troops burst into houses, dragging out 36 women and eventually deporting eight of them. The women were ordered to go to their old homes in the West Bank. Some had been married for years to Palestinians in Jaljulya, some were pregnant, many had children, but the soldiers were demonstrating to the Israeli public that when a demographic problem becomes a danger, the state will act swiftly and without hesitation. One Palestinian member of the Knesset protested, but the action was backed by the government, the courts and the media.

The ten members of the new Knesset from Palestinian parties will not be included in any coalition and will probably be sidelined and forgotten, as they were in the previous parliament (there are two other Arab members and two Druze members from Labour and Kadima). Haaretz sent a journalist to live for a few days in the ‘Arab areas’ in order to write - as an anthropological tourist - on the Palestinians’ reaction to the elections. Apart from this piece of reportage, the Israeli media had nothing to say about how the Palestinians voted. After all, they are the problem, not the solution. And if disengagement doesn’t ‘stop’ the growth in their numbers the Jaljulya operation could show the future.”

The Zionist attack on the Israel Lobby thesis started with some quibbles about the Mearsheimer & Walt views of Israeli ‘democracy’, quibbling which has stopped presumably as the Zionists don’t want anybody to enter into a detailed consideration of what Israel actually looks like.