Israel is moving more toward a Jewish theocracy based on the myth of religious supremacy and ultra-nationalism. And the November 1, 2022, legislative election will not change this.
This is the fourth election in five years with parties forming coalitions, splitting, then reforming coalitions.
An October 18 poll, put out by the polling firm Midgam, shows how many seats the parties are predicted to win. Among the parties running in the election are the following:
- Likud: A center right/right-wing political party, Likud is predicted to win 30 seats. It thus may lead the field in the number of seats.
- Yesh Atid: This is a liberal party which may win 25 seats. It represents the secular middle-class.
- National Unity Party: This is a political alliance between the Blue and White Party and New Hope Party. It was created to run in the 2022 election. It may win 12 seats.
- Shas: This is a religious political party serving the interests of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews. The poll has it winning 8 seats.
- Israeli Labor Party: This is a social democratic and Zionist party which dominated decades ago, but now is predicted to get 5 seats.
- Religious Zionist Party: a far-right wing party running ahead of Shas and Labor
(There are other smaller parties running that range from left to right on the political spectrum.)
Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party have dominated the Israeli Knesset (parliament) for a number of years. Predicted to win 30 seats, the party’s number is down based on the 2020 results of 36 seats; and in 2021 it further decreased to 30 seats. (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz, October 3, 2022). The closest rival to Likud is Yesh Atid, headed by Prime Minister Yair Lapid, predicted to get 24 seats. (Times of Israel, September 29, 2022)
But Netanyahu is worried that he and Likud will not have enough seats to form a government. The number to do this is 61 seats. Netanyahu’s coalition consists of Likud and other right-wing and religious parties. The total number of seats would be 59. Meanwhile, Lapid’s coalition is predicted to get 57 total seats.
Whoever becomes the prime-minister probably won’t make a difference regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In the Knesset, a bill was pushed through declaring Israel to be the nation of the Jewish people. This exclusiveness has Jews being citizens with equal rights, but at the expense of non-Jews.
It amounts to Palestinians being treated like second-class citizens where some people are more equal than others. The nation-state law in the bottom line upholds white, Jewish supremacy. Israel does not belong to non-Jews. And the bill further promotes the immigration of Jews to Israel.
The Palestinians/Arabs are a minority in the Knesset. Their parties–Mansour Abbas’s United Arab List, a nationalist party called Balad, and Hadash-Ta’al–are depending on the Palestinian vote. But Palestinian turnout could be as low as 40%, according to various polls. If that is the case, one of the parties may not rise above the electoral threshold of 3.25%. (Pfeffer, Haaretz) All political parties must reach that threshold to qualify for a seat in the Knesset. With already low representation in the Knesset, Palestinians probably feel alienated from the voting process.
That is not the only reason. The Israeli right in particular has essentially been calling the shots relating to the Israel-Palestine conflict. It has been blatantly promoting the violation of Palestinian rights. The nation-state law makes matters worse.
Carolina Landsmann wrote a piece published in Haaretz (January 16, 2022) which asserted that “The [nation-state law] in fact provides a format conforming conversion with Jewish and Torah law–for the first time in Israeli law.”
It sounds like the Israeli right is getting ahead of the United States’s Christian right in efforts to have church and state entwined. So, Israel has its own version of threatening to violate the separation of church and state. Thus, Israel is practicing a form of totalitarianism. And one is not allowed to criticize or question monotheistic beliefs.
What are the specifics of the nation-state law? The publication Middle East Eye gives details:
- The vote was 62-55 to pass the law.
- “The law says Israel is the ‘historical homeland’ and the ‘national home’ of the Jewish people.”
- “It says that only Jews have the right to exercise national self-determination in Israel.”
- “It says that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and Hebrew is its language.”
- “It describes Jewish settlement as a ‘national value’ to be promoted by the state.”
A fact sheet published by the Arab Center D.C. revealed strong opposition to the law among Palestinians: “Knesset member Haneen Zoabi argued that “a democracy does not exist without equality among its citizens. A selective democracy is not a democracy.”’ MP Ahmad Tibi “stated that the vote represents the ‘end of democracy.’ He tweeted that [this is] ‘The official beginning of fascism and apartheid.’”
“PLO Committee member Hanan Ashrawi also denounced the Knesset vote by emphasizing that the Jewish nation-state law “gives license to apartheid, discrimination, ethnic cleansing, and sectarianism at the expense of the Palestinian people. Such racist and prejudicial legislation is illegal by all standards of international law, democracy, humanity, justice, tolerance, and inclusion.”
“Hassan Jabareen, director of Adalah, the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, said the law features key elements of apartheid, which he said ‘is not only immoral but absolutely prohibited under international law.”’
Condemnation also came from Jewish sources. Progressive Jewish groups implied that Israel would have a tarnished image worldwide by enacting a law that has self-determination as a unique right to the Jewish people.
In the United States, Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, asserted that the law was “born in sin. It’s only purpose is to send a message to the Palestinian community, the LGBT community, and other minorities in Israel that they are not and never will be equal citizens.” The New Israel Fund condemned enactment of the law as “tribalism at its worst.” And Alissa Wise, a rabbi and member of Jewish Voice for Peace, expressed sarcasm regarding the law: “So, now we can officially be done with the ‘only democracy’ thing, right.”
A position paper (January 12, 2021) put out by the Jewish organization B’Tselem also refers to Israeli oppression as apartheid. It opposes “the supremacy of one group—Jews—over another—Palestinians.”
There are four factors that the Israeli regime pursues for the benefit of the “Chosen People”:
- Land: “Israel works to Judaize the entire area, treating land as a resource chiefly meant to benefit the Jewish population. Since 1967, Israel has also enacted this policy in the West Bank, building more than 280 settlements for some 600,000 Jewish Israeli citizens.” And, thus, denying Palestinians property rights.
- Citizenship: “Jews living anywhere in the world are entitled to Israeli citizenship. In contrast, Palestinians cannot immigrate to Israeli-controlled areas, even if they, their parents or grandparents, were born and lived there.”
- Freedom of Movement: “Israeli citizens enjoy freedom of movement in the entire area controlled by Israel. Palestinian subjects require a special Israeli-issued permit to travel.”
- Political Participation: “Palestinian citizens of Israel may vote and run for office, but leading politicians undermine the legitimacy of Palestinian political representatives.” And Palestinians who live in the Occupied Territories are not allowed to vote.
B’Tselem’s goal? To end the Israeli regime and its violations of rights, occupation and the threat of annexation.
Regarding annexation, Amnesty International published a fact sheet on this goal of Israel’s regime. Annexation by Israel:
- Violates international law.
- “‘Annexation’ is acquiring territory by force and is a flagrant violation of international law. In the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), ‘annexation’ means extending Israeli law to areas which are recognized as occupied and treating as part of the territory of Israel.”
- Blatantly disregards international law.
- “[A]nnexation is unlawful. Israel’s continued pursuit of this policy further illustrates its cynical disregard for international law. Such policies do not change the legal status of the territory…”
- Increases the odds of more rights violations.
- “Amnesty International is calling on Israeli authorities to immediately abandon plans to further ‘annex’ territory in the West Bank because they will exacerbate decades of systematic human rights violations against Palestinians…”
- Is a repeating pattern of war crimes.
- “Settlements are created with the sole purposes of permanently establishing Israeli civilians on occupied land; this is a war crime under the Rome statute of the International Criminal Court and ‘annexation’ has no bearing on this legal determination.”
- Makes it necessary for the international community to reject Israeli annexation.
- “Members of the international community must enforce international law and re-state that ‘annexation’ of any part of occupied West Bank is null and void. They must also work to immediately stop the construction of illegal Israeli settlements.”
In addition, annexation puts a question mark on the residency and citizenship of Palestinians and the Israeli regime has no plans to grant Palestinians Israeli citizenship. But the two-state solution should still be considered by the international community, however difficult.
Annexation would further the expropriation of Palestinian property in the OPT, which would be given to Israeli settlers. In turn, Palestinians would be denied adequate housing since the Israeli regime and the settlers would recognize Palestinian villages as being illegitimate and possibly ripe for demolition.
It is easy to see how voting in Israel does not amount to equality for Arabs/Palestinians. But it is one recourse they must use to get some say in Israel, no matter how small. But the coming election probably will not result in something significant for the Palestinian population.
Thus, considering the overall situation, Palestinians have retaliated with attacks in Israeli territory. Israel, as well as the United States, consider these attacks terrorism. And they may be labeled as such.
But Israel, with its military arsenal (backed by the U.S.), has resorted to revenge, killing many more Palestinians compared to casualties on the Israeli side. Should this also be called terrorism?
Yes, but both the U.S. and Israel cynically see this as a security concern for the “Holy Land.”
There is no consideration of the roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the Western and Israeli side by many supporters of Israel. Occupation is a major culprit and it is made worse by the continuing, forceful establishment of Jewish settlements in the OPT. Israel has violated international law so many times yet is not called out for it by, e.g., U.S. leaders. And there are Israeli Jews who see the Palestinians as subhuman. So, racism is another culprit.
It is tragically ironic that there are Jews who are racist, considering the barbarism Jews suffered through during the Nazi Holocaust. An estimated six million Jews died as a result, along with three million other “undesirables.”
With the continuing oppression of Palestinians, there are Jews who have not learned from history. They take on the characteristics of fascists, at least on the right-wing side.
However, it is virtually a sin to criticize any Jews. Immediately, the “anti-semitic” card is played. But given the long history that has characterized the oppression of Jews, there are those, Jewish and non-Jewish, who have reflexively condemned the critics. So, it is not surprising why.
Israel should not be exempt from criticism: It is the same as all other nations since rights violations occur in all of them to one degree or another. The ideological motives of nations do differ, however. The ideological motives of Israel are mired in religious supremacy. Specifically, it is the Israeli right wing that is pushing religious supremacy, whether it is the government, religious fanatics, military, police or settlers or all of them. There is of course an overlapping of these elements, having similar or the same interests.
The Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement (BDS) is a major actor in dealing with the Israel-Palestine conflict. BDS continues to hold Israel accountable for what can be accurately called criminal behavior. While Palestinians are not totally innocent, BDS nevertheless targets Israel as a priority. It looks at Israel as the aggressor (more than Palestine), with the right wing still not renouncing its goal of enforcing the myth of religious supremacy. And it looks like some Jews, at the least, will never do that.
The conflict between Israel and Palestine has gone on for too long and it does not look like there is an end in sight. But the situation has to be resolved. The Israeli right and the regime itself are playing a dangerous game by trying to impose a “democratic” theocracy and continuing with taking Palestinian land for settlements. The religious supremacy myth and ultra-nationalism have made Israel a rogue nation.
Can the Palestinians/Arabs gain anything from the November 1, 2022, election? It will be a continuing struggle, going up against a powerful establishment that for decades has oppressed that group. For some Jews, there will be empathy for them. For others, they will continue to cling to a belief in their superiority.
The election on November 1, 2022, will not result in real change, at least for Palestinians/Arabs and other minority groups.
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About the Author
David Starr acknowledged his interest in politics in 1986 when he lived in Hawai’i.
From there, he became active, joining such groups as the Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Association (LACASA), the Hawai’i Union of Socialists (HUS) and Ka Lehui Hawai’i (The Hawaiian Nation).
Starr also created a publication entitled Voices of Change, and had articles published in the Honolulu Weekly and Toward Freedom during the 1990s.
Now Connecticut-based, Starr has published many pieces in Reader Supported News, the Daily Kos, and has been published in the LA Progressive.
David can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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