Ben Gurion's requirement of achieving Jewish supremacy in the 'State of Israel' has been a continuous and discriminative historical process. Demography has been consistently approached from an obsessive preservationist viewpoint to the detriment of Palestinians. Netanyahu's re-election and the rise of the religious right in Israel will continue to exploit a trend of intolerance against Palestinians which stems from a legal differentiation between citizenship and nationality. This distinction makes Judaism a prerequisite for the foundations of the State of Israel, automatically excluding Palestinians from enjoying the same rights as the settlers.
However, this requirement has never been a point of contention for Western governments who continue to uphold Israel as the only democracy in the Middle East. There is, in fact, an aberration in political discourse with regard to religious and political rights. Much has been said about the safeguarding of minority rights, yet it is unequivocally and silently agreed upon that minorities are processed as self-serving political mileage. It is, therefore, acceptable to proclaim Israel as a Jewish nation facing security and terror threats, but unthinkable to claim that the same 'minority' in the Middle East has perfected a history of religious and political persecution against Palestinians.
This persecution is based upon a distorted perception of 'the majority' intent upon preserving the Jewish people, according to the premise that such preservation is the duty of every state. Once again, what Israel omits from its narrative, is the reality of a belligerent occupation forcing the authentic majority – the Palestinians, into exile, and refusing to acknowledge Palestinians' right to return. Furthermore, Israeli persecution has veered towards the religious, seeking to achieve superiority by imposing prohibitions, constraints and threats against religious expression.
Jewish settlers and Israeli forces have regularly raided the Al Aqsa mosque. According to the Al Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Heritage, almost 11,000 settler and soldiers stormed the mosque during 2012. Statistics show that the number was significantly lower in 2011 with an estimate of 5,000, albeit that this still portrays intolerance and persecution. The foundation has also issued a statement concerning excavations undertaken by Israel – most of the Islamic ruins and monuments at the site have been damaged by Israeli excavators.
However, according to Israeli right wing discourse, it is the Jews who experience religious persecution with regard to use of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. In describing the mosque as the holiest site for Jews, this statement blatantly discriminated against Muslim heritage with regard to Al Aqsa. In addition to laying claims to the site to the exclusion of Palestinians, the adhan has been deemed 'illegal' and 'annoying' as well as being a source of terror to Jews in the neighbourhood. The disdain for Muslim prayer ritual had been a source of oppressive discourse in the context of Nazareth, particularly when Mayor Shimon Gaspo declared his intent to eliminate any religious symbolism in the locality other than Jewish. Gaspo also equated the adhan with provocation, describing it as 'the noise of the mosques'. Ariel Sharon also triggered outrage when he declared Jewish ownership of Al Aqsa.
For the allies besotted with the State of Israel, this kind of persecution continues to remain intentionally excluded from political and human rights rhetoric. Without any inclination to hold Israel accountable for violating what has been declared as universal freedoms by international charters, Western leaders embrace their role of silent conspirators. Palestinians fail to feature in the struggle for human rights and religious freedom, once again bearing the brunt of racist motives in the name of democracy.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.