By Khalid Amayreh
The Right-wing Israeli government on Sunday, 10 October, approved a proposal that would force non-Jewish citizens to swear loyalty to Israel as a Jewish state. The proposal didn't state explicitly that non-Jews would have to settle for lesser rights and privileges in comparison to Jewish citizens. However, this is how the new law has been understood by most people.
In order to contain criticisms, Israeli officials invoked the old mantra that Israel was always a Jewish and democratic state and that non-Jewish citizens had nothing to worry about. However, what these officials didn't say was that from now on Israel would be defined mainly by its "Jewish" nature and only secondarily by being a democratic state. In other words if and when, if "Jewish" and "democratic" are not compatible as is generally the case, one should have no illusion as to which will override the other.
In other words, Israel can't be really democratic and Talmudic at the same time, and under the present circumstances, the best and most the Jewish state can do is pretend being truly democratic or use democracy as a mere window dressing to conceal its fascist nature.
This is what Arab Knesset member Ahmed Tibi alluded to in his reaction to the new law. He said the new law meant first and foremost that Israel is democratic only for Jews but Jewish for non-Jews, particularly Arabs.
"There is no country in the world that forces its citizens or naturalizing to swear their loyalty to ideology or a sectarian obligation. Israel is proving that it is not egalitarian and is in fact democratic for Jews and Jewish for Arabs."
Targeting the Arabs
The new law seems to be targeting both the large Arab community in Israel, which constitutes more than 23% of Israel's population and is increasing at a higher rate in comparison to the Jewish birth rate, and the millions of Palestinian refugees, uprooted from their homes and villages in 1948 and who insist on repatriation to these homes and villages in what is now Israel.
As to the Arab community in Israel , the new law seems to tell them that their continued existence as citizens in Israel can't be guaranteed for eternity and that they might have to seek "national fulfillment" elsewhere, e.g. in a prospective Palestinian state. In other words, the new laws waves the sword of transfer in the face of the estimated 2 million Palestinians considered "full" Israeli citizens.
In any case, the new law is asserting the Jewish nature of Israel, mainly at the expense of democracy. Its unspoken words seem to look like the following: "Israel is a Jewish state first and foremost, and if you are not a Jew, don't expect to enjoy full rights and privileges." In the final analysis, if a non-Jewish citizen aspires for full equality, he or she would have to convert to Orthodox Judaism (other streams of Judaism are not accepted), or leave the country."
As to the Palestinian refugees aspiring to return home, the new law is telling them not to even dream of repatriation to Israel. This would perpetuate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, making it unsolvable at least for many decades to come.
There is no doubt that the approval of this explicitly fascist law constitutes the "legal infrastructure" for a possible deportation of Israel's Palestinian citizens in order to resolve Israel's growing demographic problem.
Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, have consistently demanded that the Palestinian Authority recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Israel never fully or satisfactorily explained what "Jewish state" was supposed to mean. However, if one can take statements by Israeli officials at face value, "Jewish state" implies that Israel would have the right, at least at some point in the future, to expel its non-Jewish citizens to the would-be Palestinian state.
So, notwithstanding, the plethora of statements in favor or against the new law, it is sufficiently clear that the ultimate goal of that law is the realization of what is called "Transfer." For the uninitiated, transfer is not an innocent linguistic terms denoting moving a population from one place to another place. In the Palestinian context, it means nothing less than genocidal ethnic cleansing.
Since 1948, Israel has been carrying wave after wave of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Now, ethnic cleansing is backed up by a solid legal infrastructure which would enable the Zionists to use the new law as a mantra whose invocation justifies every conceivable crime against the Palestinian people. Hence, Israel will from now on speed up the process of withdrawing the citizenship from "Israeli Arabs" on the ground that Israel is a Jewish state and that non-Jews wishing to remain in Israel would have to come to terms with their inferior status as second or third-class citizens.
In the early 1970s, a fascist-minded American immigrant rabbi, named Meir Kahana, was elected to the Knesset . He explained that Judaism and democracy were totally incompatible and that Israel would have to decide if it wanted to be just another Western democracy or a true Jewish state.
Kahana, who wrote a book entitled "They Must Go", called for the expulsion of most or all Palestinians from Israel proper and the Occupied Territories of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
One of Kahana's later-day disciple, Knesset member Ben Ari of the National Union Bloc, declared victory, saying that "20 years after Kahana's death, the Likud has admitted that Rabbi Kahana was right."
"It's refreshing to hear the Likud government, that haunted Rabbi Kahana, wants the Arabs to sign a loyalty oath. It was admitted today that what Rabbi Kahana stated 20 years ago was correct and proper."
After the adoption of the latest law, fear is now rife among many civil-minded Israelis that this is only the beginning and that it is only a matter of time before more draconian laws are applied, which would make Israel a decidedly-fascist state.
Some Talmudic laws view non-Jews as outright animals and ascribe to them the role of "water carriers and hewers of wood" in the service of the "master race" or "chosen people." Indeed, Talmudic-minded cabinet ministers, such as Y'akov Ne'eman, declare openly that they won't rest until they see Israel ruled by the laws of the Talmud.
This spells fascism for other secular ministers, such as Isaac Herzog, son of the former Israeli President Haim Herzog.
"We are on a most dangerous slippery slope," Herzog declared. "It seems fascism is devouring the margins of society."
However, it seems that fascism is devouring more than just the margins of Israeli society, as fascism has already become a mainstream phenomenon.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.