Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only shake you down once a year, but when we do we really mean it. It costs a lot to keep the site afloat, and our growing audience, well over TWO million unique viewers a month, eats up a lot of bandwidth — and bandwidth isn’t free. We aren’t supported by corporate donors, advertisers or big foundations. We survive solely on your support.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Colonialism Inverted: Israel’s War Against Liberal Democracy

by

A spate of draconic new laws, policies and regulations reinforced by incitement campaigns against the Palestinian citizens of Israel and, increasingly, Jewish liberals is leading very quickly to an inversion of Israel’s colonial project. If, in the past, one could say that Israel is colonizing the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, today the governing strategies developed and deployed by Israel in these occupied areas have infiltrated and colonized the pre-1967 Jewish State as well. Indeed, the colonial leviathan is recoiling inward.

The initial assault against the veneer of liberal democracy included the current government’s proposal of a new bill obligating human rights practitioners whose organizations receive foreign funding to wear tags when they participate in meetings at the Knesset or in other public venues.  Then came the incitement campaign against the combat soldier group Breaking the Silence and other human rights organizations, which have since become routine in the political landscape.  This was followed by the barring of a novel about a love affair between a Jewish woman and a Palestinian man from Israel’s high school curriculum, reportedly over concerns that it could encourage intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews.  Finally, the civics curriculum in high schools is currently being revamped, and some of the basic concepts dealing with democracy are being removed only to be replaced with material that highlights Jewish identity and history.

As it turns out, however, this was only the siftah.  The proposed “Loyalty in Culture” bill, which declares that the state will only fund art that is uncritical of the Zionist project, could have been lifted directly from Stalin’s Soviet Union. Drafted by Minister of Culture Miri Regev, the bill defines disloyal art as: “Denying the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state… support for an armed struggle or terror act by a hostile country or terror organization against the State of Israel; marking Independence Day as a day of mourning; an act of vandalism or physical degradation that dishonors the country’s flag or state emblem.”

According to film director Uri Rosenwaks, who until recently served as the Chairman of the Israeli Documentary Filmmakers Forum, “The lawmakers have managed to portray authors and artists who deal with issues such as human rights, occupation, and democracy as traitors. The twisted irony is that Miri Regev and other ministers are hoping that these very artists will criticize the new laws and regulations, because clamping down on anyone who is critical of Israeli policies gives these ministers credit among their constituency. The most dangerous thing that is currently happening is that criticism itself is increasingly being perceived as illegitimate.”

This move against artists is, however, parveh when compared to the hatred being directed toward Palestinian citizens of Israel, and particularly their representatives.  It is quite rare for a day to pass without one inciting remark or another by politicians and political commentators against Israel’s minority, which constitutes 20 percent of the demos. Member of Knesset Hanin Zoabi is presented in Israeli media outlets as nothing less than Satan, while her colleagues in the Joint List are routinely characterized as terrorists, a fifth column, or traitors. The racism is so overt, frightening, and without shame that my Palestinian friends in Beer-Sheva have stopped turning on the television.

Indeed, on Monday, the Knesset Constitution Committee gave preliminary approval for the “Suspension Law,” which bestows upon (Jewish) Knesset Members the authority to judge whether the ideology of their (Palestinian) colleagues is kosher. And while the bill’s title uses the word suspension, it actually authorizes the Knesset to oust representatives whose behavior is “inappropriate”; namely, “negating the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state; inciting to racism; and supporting armed struggle by a hostile state or a terrorist organization against the State of Israel.”

Expressing any kind of support for Palestinian resistance in the West Bank and Gaza will serve as sufficient grounds for expulsion from the Knesset. The message is clear: if once formal (as opposed to real) equality was sanctioned and presented as desirable within pre-1967 Israel, today even formal equality is passé. The goal, as a Ha’aretz’s editorial claims, is “a Knesset without Arabs.”

And what about the Palestinian citizens inside Israel?

I recently drove to the Bedouin village Um al-Hiran, which is destined to be destroyed and replaced by a Jewish settlement called Hiran. Residents of Um-al-Hiram are, of course citizens of Israel. A few kilometers from Um al-Hiran, in the middle of a Jewish National Fund forest, about thirty religious families have been living in a makeshift gated community waiting patiently for the government to expel the Bedouin families from their homes.

During a recent visit to this makeshift Jewish community, I saw houses scattered around a playground and a nice kindergarten with joyful paintings on the exterior wall.  Needless to say, this bucolic setting was both unnerving and surrealistic. On the web I found this picture of the people who are destined to dispossess the residents of Um Al-Hiran. They are all smiling, happy; they are West Bank settlers who have returned to Israel to colonize Bedouin land.   The rooster has come back home to roost.

This article appeared in Al Jazeera.

Neve Gordon is the co-author (with Nicola Perugini) of the newly released The Human Right to Dominate.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 28, 2016
Eric Draitser
Stop Trump! Stop Clinton!! Stop the Madness (and Let Me Get Off)!
Ted Rall
The Thrilla at Hofstra: How Trump Won the Debate
Robert Fisk
Cliché and Banality at the Debates: Trump and Clinton on the Middle East
Patrick Cockburn
Cracks in the Kingdom: Saudi Arabia Rocked by Financial Strains
Lowell Flanders
Donald Trump, Islamophobia and Immigrants
Shane Burley
Defining the Alt Right and the New American Fascism
Jan Oberg
Ukraine as the Border of NATO Expansion
Ramzy Baroud
Ban Ki-Moon’s Legacy in Palestine: Failure in Words and Deeds
David Swanson
How We Could End the Permanent War State
Sam Husseini
Debate Night’s Biggest Lie Was Told by Lester Holt
Laura Carlsen
Ayotzinapa’s Message to the World: Organize!
Binoy Kampmark
The Triumph of Momentum: Re-Electing Jeremy Corbyn
David Macaray
When the Saints Go Marching In
Seth Oelbaum
All Black Lives Will Never Matter for Clinton and Trump
Adam Parsons
Standing in Solidarity for a Humanity Without Borders
Cesar Chelala
The Trump Bubble
September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
James McEnteer
Eugene, Oregon and the Rising Cost of Cool
Norman Pollack
The Great Debate: Proto-Fascism vs. the Real Thing
Michael Winship
The Tracks of John Boehner’s Tears
John Steppling
Fear Level Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?
James Russell
Beyond Debate: Interview Styles of the Rich and Famous
September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail