The head of Israel’s most prominent human rights group has declared that “Israel is not a democracy”, writing in an op-ed for +972 Magazine.
Hagai El-Ad, executive director of B’Tselem, was addressing the decision by a Jerusalem court to authorise the deportation of Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine director of Human Rights Watch.
The ruling, according to El-Ad, “did not reinvent the wheel”, but rather followed a path “paved by the Knesset members who legislated, the attorneys who defended, and the Supreme Court justices who made this all possible”.
El-Ad noted that the court decision is based on legislation that depends on “the doctrine of ‘defensive democracy,’ and the right of the state to defend itself and protect its citizens”.
Furthermore, the state is supposedly defending itself from “a political-diplomatic boycott by non-state actors who wish to undermine the foundations of the existence of the state in question.”
Responding to this judgment, El-Ad wrote:
But Israel is not a democracy, it is not defending itself, and the risk to the foundations of its existence stems from the moral decay it is engulfed in — not from ‘non-state actors’.
He continued: “Israel is not a democracy, as these elections proved once again. Democracy is the rule of the people, not the rule of one people over another.”
The B’Tselem head pointed to the participation of Israeli settlers in the recent elections, noting that it was not the “residents” of the occupied West Bank who voted, but “rather only Jewish citizens”.
“Millions of residents, subjects, non-citizen Palestinians — whose lives are determined by the very same regime – do not get to vote. No one takes them into account. Calling this a ‘democracy’ is a falsehood divorced from reality,” El-Ad added.
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“Israel’s doctrine of ‘defensive democracy’ is a lie, devoid of any intellectual integrity,” El-Ad wrote.
“Israel is carrying out a large-scale, violent national project, and the government seeks not only to protect this despotic project from criticism, it also refuses to pay any price for its cultivation. The Palestinians foot the bill; this is their exclusive domain.”