By Jafar M Ramini
Last Tuesday the Israeli government, emboldened by total support from the Trump Administration and the total cowardice of the international community passed one of the most discriminatory, racist bills in the history of the State of Israel, the Jewish Nation State Bill. The vote was 62:55 with two abstentions.
The bill categorically states that the State of Israel is for Jews only who have exclusive rights to self determination. The rights of 2 million Palestinian Israelis, citizens of Israel since 1948 are now officially annulled.
Hebrew will be the only official language. Arabic is denigrated from an official language to a language of interest.
Jerusalem (both East and West) will become the united, eternal capital of the State of Israel.
Settlement building, maintenance and enlargement is, says the bill, a legitimate right for Jews in their ancestral home and will be encouraged and protected.
The accepted definition of Apartheid by the United Nations and the International criminal court is as follows:
‘Apartheid refers to the implementation and maintenance of a system of legalized racial segregation in which one racial group is deprived of political and civil rights. Apartheid is a crime against humanity punishable under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. It was also labelled a crime against humanity by the UN General Assembly in 1966, resolution 2202 A (XXI).’
Those of us who keep an eye on what transpires in Occupied Palestine know very well that the definition of Israel as ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’ is based on propaganda and falsehood. The two million Palestinians who live in the land that was occupied in 1948 constitute 20% of the population of the occupying country and are treated unfairly and discriminated against by many a law that has been passed by the Israeli Knesset over the last 70 years.
In June this year, hundreds of Jewish residents of the northern Israeli city of Afula took to the streets to protest the sale of a home to an Arab family. A few days earlier members of a Bedouin family were barred entry to a public swimming pool in southern Israel because they had arrived during the afternoon hours unofficially designated for Jews.
That was how they learned that Bedouin are meant to swim separately from Jews.
Does this sound like Apartheid to you. It certainly does to me.
Members of the Arab list in the Knesset protested in no uncertain terms, calling the bill racist and Apartheid-like and were forcefully evicted from the chamber. Meanwhile, the triumphant Netanyahu described the passing of the bill as a ‘defining moment in the annuls of Zionism’.
We have always known that the Zionist doctrine was based on supremacy, ethnic cleansing, racism and Apartheid and Mr Netanyahu, in these few words, just confirmed it.
Dr Ahmad Tibi, a Palestinian veteran member of the Knesset labelled the bill, “a hate crime”. He went on to say, “This bill is totally discriminating against the Arab minority with racist articles, especially those of Jewish settlements and those articles down-grading the status of the Arabic language.”
The EU reaction was more of a whimper, “ The new law,” it was announced, “will complicate any peace efforts”.
What peace efforts?
This, my friends and compatriots, is the watered down version of the original bill submitted by Naftali Bennet, the Minister of Education and the Head of the far-right Israel Home Party. The real version was much harsher, much more openly racist and much more discriminatory against non-Jews who reside in Israel. But what do we expect from an American emigre who openly calls for the murder of Palestinian children? This was his latest outburst last Sunday during a security cabinet meeting and an exchange with the Israeli Armed Forces Chief of Staff.
“Why not shoot anyone who launches aerial weapons at our communities, and at the cells?” called Mr Bennett, referring to the children of Gaza flying kites over Southern Israel.
“There is no legal impediment. Why shoot next to them and not directly at them? These are terrorists for all intents and purposes.”
When the Israeli Army Chief of Staff, Gadi Eisenkot responded, saying: “I don’t think shooting teens and children…is right.”
He also asked Bennet: “Are you proposing to drop a bomb from a plane on incendiary balloon and kite cells?”
Bennett stressed that the Israeli army should do this, pushing the army chief to say: “I disagree with you. It’s against my operational and moral positions.”
After all the above and the mute reaction of the international community, not to mention the deafening silence from Washington do you see any chance for peace, justice and co-existence ever happening in Palestine?
I wonder what happened to the fiber of the United States of America since Thomas Jefferson? Remember, it was he who said, “When tyranny becomes law resistance becomes a duty.”
My fellow Palestinians, if there has ever been a time when we should Unite4Palestine this is it.
Jafar M Ramini is a Palestinian writer and political analyst, based in London, presently in Perth, Western Australia. He was born in Jenin in 1943 and was five years old when he and his family had to flee the terror of the Urgun and Stern gangs. Justice for the people of Palestine is a life-long commitment.