Sunday, June 3, 2007

Democracy for Jews only?

From Haaretz: By Yitzhak Laor

Looking back, it is strange how many years it has taken the liberals among us to understand that Israeli democracy needs safeguards - not against organizations trying to bring it down, or a political structure that can undermine it, or a too-powerful internal force that draws strength from the lack of a constitution (the Shin Bet security service, for example). Those who thought there was no problem with Israeli democracy, or the Arab minority in its midst, were strangely innocent.

True, there is an occupation. But in the Israeli mind, the occupation is temporary. The suspension of all human and civil rights is an extraordinary situation, an emergency situation, and thus it may be worse than a military dictatorship - after all, the army can do anything in the occupied territories. Millions of people are subject to this regime, and our democracy does not see them. Rather, it lives with the occupation as the exception, not the rule.

In contrast, Israeli democracy is careful not to talk about the constitutional status of the Arabs within its borders. It has established a devious system of laws and regulations to expropriate from them rights reserved only for Jewish citizens, and even for Jewish non-citizens. The real estate laws are an example of this, as are the actions of the Jewish National Fund and the Jewish Agency, which behave as if the state were only for Jews.

No comments: