More and more, thediscrimination and repression faced by Israel’s Palestinian citizens issurfacing in the mainstream, through media reports and alarmed NGO briefings.The stories just keep on coming: this week, Arab Knesset Members like HaneenZoabi were accused of treachery, and threatened with expulsion from the Knessetand criminal proceedings (the ‘crime’ was to meet with the PalestinianLegislative Council speaker in the West Bank, a Hamas politician).
Then there was the HighCourt’s rejection of an appeal against the Citizenship Law which separatesPalestinian families where one spouse has Israeli citizenship and the other isfrom the Occupied Territories. Praise for the ruling came from hard-liners and‘liberals’ alike, and was explicitly framed as a victory in the battle tomaintain a ‘Jewish majority’.
The various laws andproposed laws that have emerged in recent years – like the targeting of Nakbacommemoration or the official legalisation of ‘selection committees’ inhundreds of communities – are laying bare a systematic pattern ofdiscrimination that has been present since 1948. From the years of militaryrule over Palestinian citizens (which did not technically end until 1966), tothe demolition of homes in an-Naqab (the Negev) in 2012, the aim has been thesame: to ensure Jewish privilege and control over the indigenous Palestinians.
The mainstreaming of acritique of the occupation – and in particular, the settlements, or the actionsin ‘Operation Cast Lead’ – has been undoubtedly beneficial, but has often beenaccompanied by an affirmation that Israel is, for all its ‘mistakes’, a beaconof democracy. This routine endorsement of Israel’s “democracy” goes hand inhand with a taboo on questioning Israel as a ‘Jewish state’, a juxtapositionthat points towards the tension in Western liberal support for a state ofaffairs many would consider appalling in other circumstances.
Israel only has a ‘Jewishmajority’ because of the expulsion and legislated dispossession ofPalestinians. Israeli policies with regards to land, housing, immigration, andbudgets, explicitly and implicitly favour Jewish citizens (and even Jewishnon-citizens) at the expense of Palestinian citizens (and those Palestiniansstill excluded from their homeland).
This is the reality I haveattempted to highlight in my new book, Palestiniansin Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracyhttp://palestiniansinisrael.wordpress.com/ (which I’m thrilled to say comeswith a foreword by MK Haneen Zoabi). This is what Israel advocacy groups don’twant to talk about: the truth behind the myth of a ‘Jewish and democratic’state, and how that contradiction is at the heart of the conflict.