New Knesset Rulings: Are Democracy and Ethnicity Compatible?Posted: March 28, 2011
This just in:
The Knesset has just passed legislation sponsored by Yisrael Beiteinu party that gives Israel’s Supreme Court the power to strip the citizenship of anyone convicted of espionage, treason or aiding the enemy during war.
If that sounds reasonable to you, consider that even the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, opposed the bill, claiming that current laws were already sufficient:
During the bill’s final committee hearings, a Shin Bet attorney said that there are enough provisions in existing law to strip citizens’ citizenship as needed. He added that the bill itself was problematic and that Israeli Arabs indeed believe that the law is aimed at them.
Bingo. This bill has nothing to do with security and everything to do with ethnic politics.
Consider also that the Knesset recently passed legislation that would fine any Israeli communities that hold events commemorating Israeli Independence Day as an occasion of mourning. In other words, Israel has essentially criminalized the cultural memory of 20% of its citizens.
Yisrael Beiteinu MK Alex Miller defended the so-called “Nakba Law” thus:
(There) is a limit to how much we can allow democracy to be exploited in Israel.
Consider also that the Knesset recently approved legislation that appoints “admission committees” for communities in the Negev and the Galilee that have up to 400 families:
The law would empower admissions committees to reject candidates for residency if they are minors, if they lack the economic means to establish a home in the community, if they have no intention of basing their home life in the community, if a professional evaluation indicates that they are ill-suited to the community’s way of life, or if they do not suit the community’s social-cultural fabric.
Ill-suited to the community’s way of life, or if they do not suit the community’s social-cultural fabric? Disturbing words such as these shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to anyone who knows about Israel’s long-held and well-known efforts to “Judaize” the Negev and Galilee.
As I read about the increase of this troubling Judeo-centric legislation in Israel, I couldn’t help but recall a memorable 2008 interview with the courageous Israeli journalist Amira Hass, who was asked if she thought democracy and ethnicity were compatible.
They are incompatible in any state. Same with democracy and religious purity, like in Saudi Arabia. There, Jews or Christians cannot enter. They need a special permit to do so. Not to mention what women are going through there. But of course, Saudi Arabia doesn’t claim to be the only democracy in the Middle East, while Israel does.