Finding a way to make Arabs invisible in Israel

The fact that Palestinians living in Israel proper aren’t equal citizens in the state proves the lie of Israel being a real democracy.

Gideon Levy in Haaretz outlines the growing push to eradicate Arabs from the Knesset altogether:

The State of Israel owes a great debt to the Arab public and to the members of Knesset that represent it. They are more separatist than the Basques in Spain (although with many more reasons to be separatist than the Basques), and also, of course, much less violent and subversive than them.

The fact that they have yet to choose to boycott the state and its institutions and to stop participating in the game of democracy, which is corrupt to begin with, as far as they are concerned – a game from which they are almost completely excluded – is nothing short of amazing.

Instead of thanking them for this, instead of appreciating their tolerance and restraint, their basic loyalty – we push them out, specifically now. Forget morals and democracy, justice and equality – is there anything stupider than this? Is it not clear to the inciters what the alternative is to the continued participation of the Arabs in the game of democracy?

The lives of Arab Israelis bear no resemblance to the lives of a Jewish Israeli. He is born into crowded conditions and neglected neighborhoods. In 62 years, the state has not lifted a finger to help the Arab populace, which constitutes a full fifth of the state’s citizens, to establish a single new settlement.

The Arabs are weaned on deprivation from birth, the discrimination follows them from their earliest days. They can never bring up their past, they cannot define themselves as they wish (‘Palestinian?’ How dare they?), and sometimes they don’t even feel comfortable speaking their own language.

Try being an Arab and finding an apartment or a job. Surrounded by Zionist institutions that work to banish them, from the Keren Kayemet LeIsrael – Jewish National Fund to the Israel Lands Administration, a new set of laws intended to repress them, a justice system that discriminates between them and the Jewish citizens – an entire web of life of a second-class citizen in every way possible.

Day and night they hear that they are a ‘demographic threat’ or a ‘fifth column,’ that the Negev and Galil must be ‘Judaized,’ that they must be expelled from their lands. Now they hear that the Knesset must be purified of their representatives, as well.

It’s likely to happen. In a society whose institutional defenses of democracy have started to deteriorate, nothing is safe any more. One day, perhaps we will no longer have Arab MKs, or at least none that represent their constituents. And on that day, Arab Israelis will know that their exclusion from their state has become total and complete.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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