One Democratic Secular State for all its citizens in Israel and Palestine


Posted August 19, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Q: Israel: who and what are we supposed to recognise?

There are two things that countries, parties and individuals may not recognise about Israel.

One is its borders. The 1948 border was an “armistice line” that became permanent. … until 1956 when Israel invaded Egypt. Under US pressure (!) Israel withdrew from Sinai but re-invaded in 1967, but then withdrew in a peace deal with Egypt. In the North it’s invaded, retreated, invaded and retreated from Lebanon, and still claims land in Southern Lebanon up to the Litani River which it thinks would be a “more logical” border. In the north east, it claims the Golan Heights, part of Syria it occupied in 1967, re-occupied in 1973 and still holds.

The West Bank meanwhile is divided into areas a, b and c (some of them with “home rule”) and lots of military zones. It is known as the OPT (occupied Palestinian territory) except that as technically it was part of Jordan when it was occupied so Israel denies there’s an occupation, as it also denies that there is such a thing as a Palestinian. (As a public opinion guru explains, “Palestinian” conjures up underdog refugees and freedom struggles, whereas “Arab” conjures up oil wells and Islam. The whole area is subject to military rule, except for the 480,000 Jewish residents who are a law unto themselves and vote in Israeli elections. This is completely illegal under international law, as is also the separation wall which doesn’t run along the (now mythical) Green Line but snakes around settlements, water aquifers, religious sites, and through school playgrounds, a university campus and numerous towns and villages.

So where is Israel’s border? And how are we supposed to recognise it?

The second thing it wants to be recognised is that it is the state not of its present citizens (and certainly not of its recent but ethnically cleansed citizens)  but of the “Jewish Nation”, comprising some of its citizens and lots of other people as well, while excluding the 20% of its citizens who are not Jewish. (As to the definition of Jewish, that’s “complicated”.)

In order to recognise that this country, which only 65 years ago was called Palestine and had an 80% Palestinian population, is now a Jewish state, you have to buy into the Zionist brand and believe that after an absence of 2000 years (and a distinct preference for life in America, Europe, Argentina, Australia etc) an ethnic group is “returning” to a country in the Middle East whose original inhabitants are either in exile or legally defined as being interlopers, and that these returnees have a higher status than the original inhabitants.

These non-people or un-Jews too are supposed to recognise Israel as a Jewish state and not a state of all its citizens, or be labelled as traitors. They are forbidden to mourn the loss of their country.

In Israeli law there is no such thing as an Israeli. PM Netanyahu insists that it is a Jewish state, not an Israeli state. Funnily enough, no country in the whole world is expected to know this. So when Israelis travel abroad, the nationality on their passport is marked Israeli. Why not Jewish if that’s their nationality? “They wouldn’t understand.”

Israel is affronted by non-recognition, regarding it an anti-semitic crime, a wiping out of the existence of the Jewish Nation and an act of symbolic genocide. Gaza’s Hamas leaders did it and some of their followers take pot-shots at Israel, for which they have had their economy wrecked and their people slaughtered and reduced to 90% aid-dependence.

Yet it seems that numerous countries around the world have recognised a country whose borders they can’t draw and whose citizenship they don’t understand.

It is even possible that Israel’s greatest friend the USA also doesn’t understand: the White House recently announced that of the Two States famously about to be negotiated, Israel should give equal rights to “all Israelis”.

FacebookStumbleUponTwitterGoogle BookmarksYahoo BookmarksShare

« Back to Page