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Monday, February 16, 2009

Israel bans Arab parties, embraces ethnic cleansing

Much is made of Israel being the only democracy in the Middle East, a country over there with our values, their freedom, their equal treatment of Arabs despite what Arabs do to them, etc, but is it past time to re-examine Israel's status both democratically and as an entity we are supporting? It seems to me they are less democratic than people in America want to believe. I believe we just can't come to terms with the US supporting such a regime, so believe Israel’s lines about security, necessity and collateral damage. They have a right to defend themselves. They are under attack like we were on 9/11, except continually and existentially. The truth is that this is code; they don't have our values- unless apartheid and racism are American values. What people are saying with the “Israel has a right to defend herself” line is that Palestinians do not have the right to defend themselves, let alone have their own sovereign country. I know, some folks who think Israel’s actions are reasonable are going to say they support a Palestinian state, but think about the logic and facts on the ground- the two ideas are practically incompatible.

Israel was founded by terrorists using terrorism. This perfectly acceptable to us and it is something many Americans think we should defend to our financial and moral detriment. Somehow, the Palestinian struggle for statehood and rights in general is not the same; the context always manages to get separated from the actions in the US and Israeli coverage. These are savages attacking Israel for the sake of “pushing Israel into the sea”; hatred of Jews.

In lists of reasons to support Israel, democracy always is near the top.
In the recent elections in Israel, two of the major Arab parties were banned in Israel for not supporting the Gaza massacre of Dec08-Jan09. What if we banned the Democratic party because too many of them didn't support or had questions about the Iraq invasion?? Is that democratic? Is that free?

Israel disqualifies Arab parties

These are just two of the contradictions of Israel as a democracy.

Another code to decipher in this is the Israeli left. It’s not as leftist as you’d think or even perhaps as it used to be. A recent test or proof of this is the popularity and success of well-known racist Avigdor Lieberman.

For those of you who don't follow these things and want to know what the big deal is with this guy, here are three items that should raise the red flag, so to speak:

1. He has proposed a loyalty oath for Arab Israelis who wish to be or remain citizens, which means citizenship can be revoked for those not deemed to be in full support of Israel's policies, etc. You aren't allowed to criticize the government lest you put your citizenship in jeopardy?? Somebody please remind me why they are called the only democracy in the Middle East and why do we support them?? Does this remind anyone of anything?
  • Also problematic is that they are swearing loyalty to a state that only really guarantees the safety, security and rights of Jews. The Declaration of the Establishment of Israel speaks to Jews. It does mention that it will ensure the rights of others, but all the talk of the natural right of Jews to the land and justice based on Israel’s prophets, etc are kind of a slap in the face to aforementioned non-Jewish inhabitants. Why would or should they swear allegiance to that? To agree to that is to deny one’s own God-given rights as though God gave rights and land to Jews and they will generously grant you some of it – if “security” (read: from the whim of an 18 year old soldier to actual terrorist threat) warrants it.

2. He is also the guy who said this:
"It would be better to drown these prisoners (~11,000 people!!) in the Dead Sea if possible, since that's the lowest point in the world." (Avigdor Lieberman, 7 July 2003)
This is the rule rather than the exception for this guy. He is openly for ethnic cleansing where other government officials in recent years have only made veiled threats and cloaked action in some well-meaning and acceptable term like "security measures."

And this:
"At the end of the Second World War, not only the criminals were executed at the Nuremberg Trials, but also those who collaborated with them. I hope that this will be the fate of the collaborators in this house." (May 2006- Lieberman talking about Arab Knesset members who negotiate with Hamas)

Other quotes here:

3. He's a neo-fascist. And you thought Obama was a threat to peace, freedom, and everything good. The “Obama’s a socialist” was a rather trumped up pre-election charge (scare tactic). Lieberman’s for real. No exaggeration.

OK, he's a curious character. But, he's a fringe element and can't possibly be a serious mainstream competitor, right? A few years ago I thought this, but not now. And what’s worse is Israel's election front-runners fought to be more extreme than he! This speaks to the direction Israel is going and why we should reconsider our “special relationship”.

Netanyahu said Lieberman's loyalty policy didn't go far enough because there wasn't a way to enforce it.

Barak, the “leftist”, about Lieberman, said, "This is a lamb in hawk's clothing. And when did he ever shoot anybody by himself?" First, this, from the center left?? Second, transfer and revoking citizenship aren't good enough, you have to have killed Arabs to be a contender??

Due to the loyalty oath requirement for citizenship for Arabs and the fact that two Arab parties were banned from the election, apartheid like situation, neo-fascists like Avigdor Lieberman rapidly gaining popularity I think Israel's racism will become more entrenched, accepted and institutionalized a lot faster than a just peace will be negotiated.

Where I had once believed most Israelis desired peace, but the government was preventing it, I now seriously doubt it. The people are driving the trend toward apartheid and embrace racism. This is in no one's best interest.

Yes, these are government officials I just discussed, so you might say I can’t rule out the Israeli public that way. It just bothers me that they felt they had to be more extreme than the guy who wants to drown Arabs to appeal to their public. Given the reaction (or lack thereof), they are right. The Israeli public voted and either way, Lieberman will probably be asked to form an integral part of the coalition. I thought there was no way this guy would be a force to be reckoned with – ever. His popularity surprised me. In the Democracy Now podcast I reference (, they mentioned a student election (or several?) which he won. Maybe it doesn’t matter officially, but it tells us what direction things are going. Students have been more open to the left in the past, they have refused service in the Occupied Territories, but now they are embracing racism and ethnic cleansing en masse.

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