Israel Palestine Infos
October 16, 2010
The State of Bla-Bla-Bla
But the Knesset is about
to enact a law that demands from every non-Jew who desires Israeli citizenship
to swear allegiance to “The State of
And there already hovers in the air a bill that demands that all Israeli citizens, or perhaps only the non-Jewish ones, swear allegiance to this Nation-State of the Jewish People, or else.
Binyamin Netanyahu has proposed extending the building freeze in the settlements for two or three months - if the Palestinian leadership recognizes the State of Israel as the Nation-State etc. etc.
And one may well ask:
what is the source of this obsession, this demand from near and far, strangers
and non-strangers, to declare that
The State of
Why the fanfares
accompanying the announcement of every second-rate artist who agrees to appear
What do we have here? What is the reason for this gaping lack of self-confidence? This obsessive need for confirmation and for the respect of the entire world? A collective mental disturbance? A matter for political psychologists, or perhaps for political psychiatrists?
I CANNOT abstain from comparing this pathetic need to our mood when I was young.
In the middle of the 1940s, the Hebrew Yishuv (community) was about 600 thousand strong. But our self-confidence was enough for a nation of 60 million.
We had no state. We were
still fighting against foreign rule. But a large number of ideological groups
were hatching grandiose plans. The “Canaanites” were speaking about “the Hebrew
Country” from the Mediterranean Sea to the
And here we are now, 12
times larger. We have a state that most of the world’s peoples can only envy.
And we are begging to be recognized. We demand that the Palestinian people,
which has no state yet, recognize our self-definition. That a bride from
Ramallah, who wants to marry her cousin in
NOW REALLY, cynics will say, why do you take this seriously? After all, it’s only one of Binyamin Netanyahu’s and/or Avigdor Lieberman’s tricks to achieve personal gains.
That’s true, of course.
Netanyahu uses this trick to sabotage the peace negotiations that haven’t yet started. He wants to prevent negotiation that may, God forbid, lead towards peace – a peace that would compel us to evacuate the settlements and return the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem to the Palestinians.
The peace negotiations
are the enemy. Better to kill an enemy while he is still small, preferably even
before he sees the light of day. The demand to recognize the State of
If Netanyahu believed
that this aim could be achieved by the demand that the Palestinians recognize
So why deal with it seriously and discuss it?
Avigdor Lieberman speaks to his potential voters, headed by one and a quarter million immigrants from the Soviet Union, who have not yet struck roots in this country. They were raised on a totalitarian cult of power, internal terror and the super-power arrogance of their former homeland, before its collapse. Lieberman’s political ideas – an ideological oath of allegiance, the transfer of peoples and territories, and in future also gulags for the enemies of the regime – are taken from the mental world of Stalin.
For Lieberman, all this
talk about an oath of allegiance to the Jewish Soviet is nothing but a means to
gain the leadership of the Israeli Right, and from there to the leadership of
That’s obvious. So why take it seriously?
For a simple reason: both Netanyahu and Lieberman are convinced that this demand will raise their popularity among Jewish Israelis by leaps and bounds. How come?
Is this public in the
grip of a deep inner anxiety? Does it need a daily dose of tranquilizers in the
form of recognition of its state, the State of
IF I were asked to swear allegiance to the “Nation-State of the Jewish People”, I would have to respectfully decline. Perhaps by then a law will be in force that will cancel the citizenship of Israelis who refuse this demand, and I shall be demoted to the status of permanent resident devoid of civil rights.
I would have to refuse so as to avoid lying.
First of all, I don’t
know what the “Jewish people”, to which the state of
And how does the
No Israeli law has
defined what the “Jewish people” is. A religious community? An ethnic group? A
race? All these together? Does it include all those professing the Jewish
religion? Everybody who has a Jewish mother? Does it include a non-Jew married
to someone with one Jewish grandparent, who today enjoys the automatic right to
And what about the confusion between “Nation” and “People”? Does the Nation-State belong to the “Nation” or to the “People”? According to what scientific or juridical definition? Does the German “Nation-State” belong to the German “People” – which, according to some, also includes the Austrians and the German-speaking Swiss?
We have here a knot of concepts, terms and semantic confusions, a knot that cannot be unraveled.
THE FORMER Minister of Justice, the late Yaakov Shimshon Shapira, a Zionist through and through, told me once that, as the Legal Advisor of the government, he had advised David Ben-Gurion not to enact the Law of Return – because he would never find an answer to the question “who is a Jew”. It is even more difficult to answer the question “what is a Jewish State”.
And indeed, what does it mean? A state in which there is a Jewish majority – something that may well change in time? A state whose language is Hebrew and whose official holidays are Jewish? A state that belongs to the Jews all over the world? A state all of whose citizens are Jews, and Jews only? A state of transfer and ethnic cleansing? And how do the words “Jewish” and “Democratic” go together?
Because of all these
THIS WEEK I took part in the demonstration of writers, artists and intellectuals in Tel-Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard, in front of the building where Ben-Gurion announced on May 14, 1948, the founding of “a Jewish state in Eretz Israel – to be known as the State of Israel”.
Why “a Jewish state”? For Ben-Gurion, this was not an ideological definition. He just quoted the resolution of the UN General Assembly, which partitioned the country between an “Arab state” and a “Jewish state”. The framers of the resolution did not have any ideological character in mind. They simply took note of the fact that there were in the country two rival populations – the Jewish and the Arab – and decided pragmatically to divide the country between them.
The demonstration reached
its climax when the queen of the Israeli stage, Hanna Meron, who had lost a leg
It was a sad demonstration indeed.