FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Racism by Any Other Name

Tel Aviv, Israel

It was announced this week that the government plans to stiffen the rules for granting citizenship to non-Jews, through amendments to the law that make it difficult to grant legal status to Palestinians and other foreigners married to Israeli citizens. The prime minister held a special discussion of the issue and decided to establish a committee headed by the interior minister. The Interior Ministry claims that some 55,000 applications for Palestinian family reunification through marriages to Israeli Arabs have been submitted since 1968, and that natural growth increased the “naturalized” population to some 137,000 Arabs – about one-tenth of the Arab minority in Israel.

Meanwhile, an “emergency regulation” passed in 2003 limits the right of Arab citizens of Israel – a right that belongs to not only every Jew in Israel but every Jew in the world – to have their spouse and children naturalized. That distinction is expressed in the classifications of the Central Bureau of Statistics, which formally divides the citizens of Israel into two categories: “Jews and others” (Jews, Christians who are not Arabs, and people without religious classification); and “the Arab population” (Muslims, Druze, Christian Arabs). That is the language of the separation.

One must ask the sages of the National Security Council headed by Giora Eiland – who took part in the special discussion of the issue and presented the opinions of senior jurists like Ruth Gavison – what would happen to the natural growth of the Arab population in Israel (and that, after all is the “danger,” not the immigration but their natural growth) without the “family unifications” if those are prevented by the proposed law. Perhaps there is a need for a special plan for Arabs? Maybe cuts in the welfare budgets, the education budgets, the budgets for local authorities? Perhaps tougher sentences for criminal offenses? Perhaps prohibition of the establishment of new communities, or construction beyond the limits of their villages since 1948? All that already exists. According to the racist logic of the campaign against the natural growth, we will also reach limits on childbirths. The name of the game is no longer security, nor “existence,” but turning the national existence into the very purpose of human existence.

Less than two years ago, when the government backed down from its intention to make it difficult to grant legal status to Palestinians who married Israeli citizens, because of opposition from the legal advisor to the Knesset, the Knesset Interior Committee held a closed door session. The head of the Shin Bet provided “data about the scope of involvement in terror activity by people who have blue identity cards because of family unification,” said Ha’aretz on July 30, 2003. Then, too, the entire matter sounded dubious. But the discussion was framed in the context of “security” to pass the High Court of Justice. Now they are channeling it into a “discussion of immigration,” once again framing it for the High Court’s ears. In the background is the constant equation, “what’s bad for the Arabs is good for the Jews.” Betar Jerusalem’s fans screaming their “death to Arabs” slogans are less dangerous than Eiland and Gavison.

Nonetheless, this has nothing to do with immigration, even if that’s where the rhetorical effort is concentrated. It is first about the ongoing attitude of the state of Israel to the Palestinian people. Israel never has truly recognized their equal right to exist, neither inside Israel’s borders nor outside them. There is nothing like the latest statistical campaign, with its nightmare predictions, to prove that.

Not only are the subjects of the occupation for more than a generation, 38 years, not allowed inside the country without a regime of special permits, and for the last 15 years prevented from working; and not only, when they leave their defined territories to spend a period of time overseas, can they lose their homes and property forever, as if they were foreigners; but the Arabs who are the citizens of Israel lose more and more of their civil rights, like the right to grant their children minimum conditions to live with dignity, a public library, a cultural center, enough nutrition. Those who think there was a big difference between Kahane and Rehavam Ze’evi will not find big differences between their common spiritual world and the spiritual world behind this legislation, in its new campaign.

YITZHAK LAOR is an Israeli novelist who lives in Tel Aviv.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
August 17, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Daniel Wolff
The Aretha Dialogue
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump and the Rise of Patriotism 
Joseph Natoli
First Amendment Rights and the Court of Popular Opinion
Andrew Levine
Midterms 2018: What’s There to Hope For?
Robert Hunziker
Hothouse Earth
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Running Out of Fools
Ajamu Baraka
Opposing Bipartisan Warmongering is Defending Human Rights of the Poor and Working Class
Paul Street
Corporate Media: the Enemy of the People
David Macaray
Trump and the Sex Tape
CJ Hopkins
Where Have All the Nazis Gone?
Daniel Falcone
The Future of NATO: an Interview With Richard Falk
Cesar Chelala
The Historic Responsibility of the Catholic Church
Ron Jacobs
The Barbarism of US Immigration Policy
Kenneth Surin
In Shanghai
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
The Military Option Against Venezuela in the “Year of the Americas”
Nancy Kurshan
The Whole World Was Watching: Chicago ’68, Revisited
Robert Fantina
Yemeni and Palestinian Children
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Orcas and Other-Than-Human Grief
Shoshana Fine – Thomas Lindemann
Migrants Deaths: European Democracies and the Right to Not Protect?
Paul Edwards
Totally Irrusianal
Thomas Knapp
Murphy’s Law: Big Tech Must Serve as Censorship Subcontractors
Mark Ashwill
More Demons Unleashed After Fulbright University Vietnam Official Drops Rhetorical Bombshells
Ralph Nader
Going Fundamental Eludes Congressional Progressives
Hans-Armin Ohlmann
My Longest Day: How World War II Ended for My Family
Matthew Funke
The Nordic Countries Aren’t Socialist
Daniel Warner
Tiger Woods, Donald Trump and Crime and Punishment
Dave Lindorff
Mainstream Media Hypocrisy on Display
Jeff Cohen
Democrats Gather in Chicago: Elite Party or Party of the People?
Victor Grossman
Stand Up With New Hope in Germany?
Christopher Brauchli
A Family Affair
Jill Richardson
Profiting From Poison
Patrick Bobilin
Moving the Margins
Alison Barros
Dear White American
Celia Bottger
If Ireland Can Reject Fossil Fuels, Your Town Can Too
Ian Scott Horst
Less Voting, More Revolution
Peter Certo
Trump Snubbed McCain, Then the Media Snubbed the Rest of Us
Dan Ritzman
Drilling ANWR: One of Our Last Links to the Wild World is in Danger
Brandon Do
The World and Palestine, Palestine and the World
Chris Wright
An Updated and Improved Marxism
Daryan Rezazad
Iran and the Doomsday Machine
Patrick Bond
Africa’s Pioneering Marxist Political Economist, Samir Amin (1931-2018)
Louis Proyect
Memoir From the Underground
Binoy Kampmark
Meaningless Titles and Liveable Cities: Melbourne Loses to Vienna
Andrew Stewart
Blackkklansman: Spike Lee Delivers a Masterpiece
Elizabeth Lennard
Alan Chadwick in the Budding Grove: Story Summary for a Documentary Film
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail