Israelis, Palestinians Must Unite to End Occupation

"The will of Israel" does not derive from civilian, minority-majority norms, nor is it based on a constitution that guarantees minority rights and defines when a minority has the option to rise up against the government. Instead, "the will of Israel" derives from an ultra-nationalist version of the Jewish religion.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the political right argues, has a solid parliamentary majority, so not accepting such a majority's decisions is undemocratic. Right-wing advocates use this argument widely. But of course, this argument harms Israel because it treats its colonialism as if it were part of its political structure.

For the sake of argument, let's put aside the conventional wisdom, which holds that democracy is an arena of constant struggle, also between elections, one that involves lobbying and persuasion, demonstrations and donations - even boycotts. Let's put aside the way this government is shortening its rivals' stride and curtailing its rights. And let's ignore the way the mass-media outlets quickly turn into propaganda instruments the moment the government describes any circumstance as "a crisis."

One can even accept the allegation that on the militant left's margins, the fringe that confronts the police and intones the pathetic chant "p-o-l-i-c-e s-t-a-t-e," as if any of them have ever lived in a police state, there is contempt for democratic institutions. One can even concede that the fascistic signs of Israel's governing culture beget a new left marred by conspicuous signs of "red fascism." That is, this leftist fringe has contempt for the democratic process. Let's look beyond all that - none of this relates to the main point.

The key aspect of claims about democracy by right-wing spokesmen - be they supporters of a negotiation process and peace talks, or activists who unreservedly maneuver to foil the process - is that it rests on a dubious form of democracy, perhaps the lowest imaginable. That form imputes to residents of the occupied territories the results of "our" democratic decisions, decisions they are not privy to at all.

Not only is this "democracy" tainted with racism, not only does it bestow upon its subjects in schools, the army and other dens of learning a completely distorted understanding of the concept of democracy, it also is the cause and explanation of a long list of anti-democratic laws.

Israeli democracy, and all its stable and shaky foundations, is not based on the idea of "the will of the people." Its basis is something else, something murky that, as the long years of the occupation progress, increasingly takes on a religious cast. It can even account for the brazen messianic chutzpah of the settlers and their cohorts. "The will of Israel" does not derive from civilian, minority-majority norms, nor is it based on a constitution that guarantees minority rights and defines when a minority has the option to rise up against the government. Instead, "the will of Israel" derives from an ultra-nationalist version of the Jewish religion. That religion long ago turned into the unofficial constitution that rules our lives. According to this vision, Israeli sovereignty derives from the sacred text.

Israel's left was never able to say that, regarding the occupation, there was no possibility of forging a real opposition without Israeli-Palestinian cooperation. Because such cooperation is needed to bypass the obstacle of this racist, unwritten constitution. In fact, it was left-wing activists who were drawn to the dubious proposal of conducting a referendum on the "future of the territories."

This mentality produced a paternalistic leftist-Zionist approach (which fortunately has eroded ): You, the Palestinians, have to do or say this or that. The Zionist left disappeared because it was unable to fashion forms of solidarity with the subjects of the occupation. The solidarity march in Jerusalem on Friday to support Palestinian independence can mark a historic turn of events. Whatever happens in the future, the struggle against the occupation must be binational and conducted by anyone who rejects its legitimacy.