A Ha’aretz editorial brought my attention back to a bill a Kadima MK is pushing through Knesset: Basic Law: Israel — the Nation-State of the Jewish People. The bill was originally presented in August, following several years of what seemed to be efforts to strengthen the legally Jewish character of the state, such as the passage of the Nakba Law and the Loyalty Oath debacle, in which non-Jewish citizens would be required to swear allegiance to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state.” Continue reading →
This the wording in the opening paragraph of an article in today’s Daily Star (emphasis mine):
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli activists have called for a “demonstration of 1 million” people as part of their ongoing protest movement against rising costs of living in the Jewish state, organizers said Friday.
And this is the wording farther down:
That rally was the biggest demonstration for a social cause in the history of the state of Israel.
Why “Jewish state” first, even at all, and “the state of Israel” when headline-skimmers have already stopped reading? It’s like reading “Israel is a Jewish state, but here’s something that happened there today.”
The recently-passed Israeli anti-boycott bill has been getting an unprecedented amount of press (I wonder, is it because it targets Jewish as well as non-Jewish citizens of Israel?). I thought it seemed prudent to highlight the many others bills and laws proposed by Knesset members over the last year and a half or so, simply because there is a sense, generally, that these laws are only just now starting to be written, which is simply untrue. The Anti-Boycott Law is only the most recent in a long, long legacy of this type of legislation. I didn’t bother to deal with executive orders or anything else because I needed a manageable amount of data.
WARNING: This will probably be a little bit incendiary and unquestionably littered with social democratic and possibly Marxist or even anarchistic sentiment.
After much discussion and rumination and explication, I think I am finally able to explain and possibly even support the full call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel.
There is a LOT of information out there about it. It’s dense, seemingly contradictory at times, and very difficult to parse through. Having people to talk about it with is immensely helpful. For your own purposes, some good resources are PACBI, BNC, and IMEU.
To be completely honest, though so many people speak in favor of BDS, they only do so in the context of the real and physical occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. But even among so many leftist Jews, it is very difficult to acknowledge or talk about the State of Israel as its own form of occupation, but to fully support BDS, which is critical for complete justice throughout all of historic Palestine, we must talk about the harder aspects.
As I’ve looked over our postings the last few months I’ve realized that some context maybe needed to understand where our criticism and cynicism comes from. All of us work at organizations that are fighting to improve the condition inside the country for Palestinian citizens of Israel, defend human rights in general and promote a democracy that provides protection for its minority and multiple ethnic groups. As a result, our job is to read, write, react and act against what we and our organizations view as inequities and injustices. For those of us who are Jews, and the other authors can feel free to disagree with me, part of this experience includes questioning our relationship to a state that propounds to represent and defend the Jewish people. In addition, the internal situation seems to only be getting worse, leading to a growing feeling of disillusionment and recognition of the limitations of the system we are trying to work within.
Here is some background information to give people who are not in Israel an idea of the reality on the ground, and the issues we have been working on. Palestinian citizens of Israel make up 19% of the population. Many are internal refugees whose villages were demolished in 1948. They face discrimination on multiple fronts including at the state level through legislation and unequal budget allocations. Palestinian villages receive inadequate funding leading to poor public education, transportation and healthcare. Arab schools face a severe shortage of adequate classrooms and teaching facilities. The legal system does an inadequate job of protecting Palestinian victims of violence and a very efficient job of persecuting Palestinian defendants. Continue reading →