On Monday Israel’s parliament, the Knesset passed yet another retrograde and discriminatory law. But there was a new twist this time.
Racist Likud legislator Yariv Levin championed the law. The goal, in his words, was to “introduce balance to the State of Israel, and connect us [Jews] with the Christians, I am careful not to refer to them as Arabs, because they are not Arabs” (a farcical statement).
The law is fairly limited in scope, merely adding a token extra “Israeli Christian” onto a particular toothless committee. But it could well be the thin end of a wedge intended to set people from the same oppressed group against one another based on religious differences.
The plan is to separate Palestinian Christians with Israeli citizenship from Palestinian Muslims with Israeli citizenship. Palestinians of both religions have until now been classified under the racist entity’s laws as “Arabs”. There has also been a separate definition of Palestinian Druze as “Druze” (and not Arab – despite the fact that their native language is Arabic and that many identify as such).
This new strategy is an attempt to further fragment and divide the Palestinian population within 1948 occupied Palestine. It is a classic imperial “divide and rule” strategy. With the current wave of sectarian violence plaguing the Arab world (often instigated and/or exacerbated by outside imperial forces in any case) Israel has scented blood. The longer the Arab world is busy with its own internal conflicts, the longer it will be distracted from confronting Israel. So Israel’s policy has always been to exacerbate, prolong or even instigate intra-Arab tensions and wars. Its current policy in Syria is very much of a piece with that history (“Let them both bleed, haemorrhage to death“).
While this particular law is new, is is only the latest installment of an Israeli campaign that began in the latter part of 2012, starting with limited attempts to recruit Palestinian Christians into Israel’s terrorist army. Furthermore, as I have previously summarised, such Zionist campaigns of sectarian agitation have almost a century of historical precedent.
While it’s far too soon to relax in the face of such a racist provocation, in my judgement it is unlikely to meet with much more than limited success (from the Zionist perspective).
First of all, there is the fact that the Arabic speaking, Palestinian Christians have been part of the body-politic since the dawn of Christianity. One hundred years of Zionist attempts to divide them have so far met with no significant results.
There is also the fact that, the “benefits” Israel is proposing to offer “Christians” (as if there were any such nationality or ethnic identity) so far seem rather insubstantial.
But thirdly, and most importantly, is the inherently racist nature of the political ideology of Zionism and thus the very foundations of the state of Israel itself.
Israel cannot help itself, it is rotten and racist to its very core, and it always will be. A story in Haaretz Wednesday illustrated this well. Ezies Elias Shehadeh, a Palestinian woman described as “a Christian Arab who was born in Safed and has taught tourism at a Jewish high school in Tirat Carmel for 19 years” was isolated, detained, humiliated, harassed to the point of tears, and stripped-searched at an Israeli airport. There was no reason given, but the very fact she was singled out and that they focused on her Arab surname tells you all you need to know.
Any talk of “benefits” given to Palestinian Christians by Israel are empty promises at best – beyond the handful of collaborators that Israel has managed to bribe or blackmail into its service (of all religions and political groups it should be noted).
And even with the collaborators, Israel can still not help itself and treats even them like scum. In the case of Father Jibril Nadaf, the token orthodox bishop who has been spearheading the recruitment of Palestinian Christians into the Israeli terrorist army, it is rumoured that the Shabak (Israel’s secret police) is using a secret from his personal life as a blackmail tool against him.
Or take the history of the so-called “South Lebanon Army”. This gang of torturers and collaborators for years enforced Israel’s brutal occupation of south Lebanon. In 2000, the Lebanese resistance led by Hizballah drove the Israeli army out, and the SLA was forced to flee to Israel with their tails between their legs. And now, years later, the veterans of the SLA’s reign of terror complain of racism in Israel against them and their families and of promises of cars and homes unfulfilled:
“after eight years we have been thrown to the street,” one told an Israeli settler media outlet in 2008.
There will never be any such thing as an “Israeli Christian” for a simple reason: the state is defined in law and practice as a “Jewish state”. Israel’s own high court has ruled that there is no such nationality as “Israeli”. Israel’s project to divide and rule will not succeed in the long run.
An associate editor with The Electronic Intifada, Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.