By Hasan Afif El-Hasan, Ph.D
Special to PalestineChronicle.com
The colonial Western powers launched Israel as their anchor in the Middle East to defend their interests in the region under the pretext of creating a homeland for the international Jewelry. It was a marriage of convenience between the colonial West and Zionism. The Jews would be safe from the oppression of Europe anti-Semitism by living in a state as a majority; Europe would have its culture supplanted in the Arab lands; and Israel would be the colony that would defend the strategic economic interests of the West. They call their creation a Jewish state, describe it as the only democracy in the Middle East and dare any one to describe it differently.
The Zionists’ project has succeeded beyond expectations with the help of the Western powers and the incompetence of the Arab leadership. Israel has survived in the middle of millions of hostile Arabs and has grown stronger militarily and economically to become the regional super-power. Despite their confidence that no Arab state poses a real threat to their project, the Zionists are afraid of one group of their own citizens that does not need or intend to be violent, the Israeli Arabs. They constitute twenty percent of the Israeli population but their numbers is the main concern in Israel’s long term demographic plans. The Israeli planners are concerned about Israeli Arabs natural reproduction rate that is double that of the Jewish population.
They have been waging a non-democratic demographic control assault against their Arab population to maintain Israel’s Jewish character. Every time an Arab is forced to emigrate from Israel or a Jew immigrant arrives in the country, Israel wins one point in the demographic war against its Arab population. To win the numbers war, Israel enacted many racist laws to boost Jewish population and obstruct Arabs growth demographically, economically and culturally. Israeli Arabs have been treated as second class citizens since the establishment of Israel. They have been living under structural social, economic and political inequalities for the last sixty years.
Racism and hatred of Arab citizens has taken on new dimensions, according to Sikkuy, a nonpartisan, non-profit organization in Israel that publishes annual reports on the status of Arab citizens of Israel. The report reviews decisions or actions taken by the Israeli government. In 2002, a bill was submitted to the Knesset that encouraged Arab emigration to Arab countries. A law was also passed in 2002 overturning a previous Supreme Court ruling that permitted Arabs to settle in Jewish villages. Arab citizens of Israel can vote and run for public offices but they never enjoyed equality, a basic requirement of democracy. The Sikkuy report of 2002 stated that “Arab members of Knesset are often ignored when speaking on the floor of the Knesset”. The report charged the Israeli media with publishing statements that threaten Arab citizens. The Israeli Arabs share of the state budget on education, housing, health care, transportation, tourism, social welfare, religious affairs, agriculture and environment per capita is far less than what is allocated for the Israeli Jewish communities.
The Israeli deputy prime minister the leader of Yisrael Beiteinu Party Avigdor Lieberman called publicly for stripping Arab Israelis of their citizenship not because they committed any crime but only because they are Arabs. Jafar Farah, director of the Mossawa Center in Israel stated that the Israeli Arabs take these threats seriously. They are frightened and feel insecure and alienated. While Jews are welcomed with open arms to come from all corners of the world with all the rights and obligations of citizenship, Israeli Arabs are deprived of their right to be treated equally with the Jewish citizens.
Under the Law of Return, the government grants citizenship and residence rights to Jewish immigrants and their immediate family members. In 2003, Israel swooped to a new level in abusing civil rights of its Arab citizens by enacting new law aimed at them. The Knesset passed a legislation that prohibits the non-Jewish Palestinian spouses of the Israeli citizens from the occupied territories across the green line from acquiring residency or citizenship rights. And in 2005, the law was amended to prohibit such non-Jewish Palestinian spouses aged 35 and younger for men and 25 and younger for women to apply for temporary visit permits. The Israeli Supreme Court rejected petitions challenging the law and the amendment.
Israeli authorities use the discriminatory practice of confiscating Arab farmland to build settlements for Jews only. On March 30, 1976, Arab residents of Sakhnin village protested the expropriation of their land to build a Jewish settlement by demonstrating and the military killed six demonstrators. Even the holy sites and cemeteries of non-Jews are discriminated against. The government has provided protection of holy sites only for Jewish sites. By the end of 2006, there were 135 designated holy sites in the country, all of which were Jewish.
Western intellectuals and analysts never questioned how such laws can be enacted in a democracy. If such laws were enacted in their own countries they would rightfully cry “state discrimination!!” The liberal Western media describes Israel as the only democracy in the Middle East without qualifying their claim.
The Israeli democracy is far from liberal democracy. It is for the Jews only and the Arabs are not “free and equal” a requirement in liberal democracy. It empowers the Jewish majority to oppress the Arab minority as a group and individuals. Democracy protects the civil liberties and the rights of minorities from the tyranny of the majority. Democracy is all or nothing affair. James Madison argued in 1778 that “the tyranny of the democratic majority is like other tyrannies vulgarly held in dread as it operates through the acts of the public authorities” against the minority. The Israeli Arabs do not feel they live in a democracy.