Last week, Haaretz’s Ofer Aderet reported about the auctioning of a letter written by Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, to then-Haifa Mayor Abba Hushi. In the letter Ben-Gurion rejected attempts to allow Palestinian Arabs to return to Haifa after fleeing during the 1948 war, stating that “until the war is over, we don’t want a return of the enemy.”
While the letter does not reveal anything new regarding the Israeli leadership’s intent to keep as many Palestinians as possible out of the new state, it does offer a chilling reminder of the origins of this Israeli policy towards Palestinians, which has remained remarkably consistent 67 years after the state’s establishment.
In the eyes of Israelis, Ben-Gurion’s attitude towards the presence of Palestinians in the state was justified: demographics in any ethnic and national conflict have precarious effects on the politics, security and stability of the different communities involved. More significantly, for the Jewish community, Israel needed to be Jewish-majority country where they would not be threatened by the domination and racism of others, as has been the case for centuries.
The terrible irony is that in its desire to escape its history as a persecuted minority, the Israeli Jewish population became an oppressive majority obsessed with racial control. To this day, the Palestinian people — whether in refugee camps, under occupation, or minority citizens inside Israel — are viewed by the Israeli state as an existential challenge. It is not just the right wing that espouses this racial paradigm; liberal Zionists, in their attempt to advocate for a two-state solution, repeatedly warn that the Palestinian population living under Israeli control will soon surpass the Jewish population, and that Israel would be forced to abandon democracy if it wants to preserve its “Jewish character.”
– Read more: When will Israel Stop Seeing Palestinians as a ‘Demographic Threat?’ – Amjad Iraqi, 972Mag