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Confirming the Palestinian Narrative

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A Palestinian protester woman wearing a scarf in the colors of the national flag, gestures while marching toward the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, during a protest east of Gaza City, Tuesday, July 3, 2018.
A Palestinian protester woman wearing a scarf in the colors of the national flag, gestures while marching toward the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, during a protest east of Gaza City.Credit: AP Photo/Adel Hana

Seventy years too late the Knesset passed the Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People, which if examined carefully turns out to be more a platform of an extremist sect than a constitutional-force law of a properly-run country. It pains me to inform those who labored over this legislation that they’ve missed the boat of history. And things done too late generally become tricky business.

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Seventy years ago this law suited the spirit of the times, when David Ben-Gurion expelled more than 750,000 Palestinians. But for some reason the man delayed finishing the job, which would have meant also expelling the 160,000 Palestinians who remained in the new State of Israel. 

One could say it was a blunder, an eternal tragedy, a historic mistake, but the die was cast – now there is no Jewish state here unless people roll up their sleeves and forcefully expel not just 160,000 people, but 2 million. And that’s without counting the Palestinians in the West Bank, if one considers that part of the Jewish state.

Here’s a scoop: U.S. President Donald Trump told a senior Palestinian official that when he heard Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explain how troublesome it was that 20 percent of Israel’s population is Arab, Trump answered – in a moment of clarity – that with a statistic like that, Israel was not a Jewish state. If Trump understands this then every toddler can understand it.

This law missed the boat also because a shared life has developed here and it is impossible to run a modern state with two types of citizens, masters and servants. The era of slavery collapsed because industry demanded the employment of free people. How much more so today, when in almost every field there is a need for workers who aren’t just free people, but also creative people.

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But the Nation-State Law has other shades, which aren’t necessarily black. It presents a fitting understanding of what has been going on here for 70 years. If this law states that Israel is a nation-state only for Jews, without a word about its Arab citizens, then it is a subliminal but very clear declaration that the Arabs are not wanted here.

Therefore, if we read the law retroactively with this new understanding, the Nation-State Law confirms the Palestinian version of the events of 1948-9, according to which the Nakba was a premeditated, evil-hearted enterprise. And stop telling us that either the Palestinians did not heed the calls to stay, or that Palestinians heeded their leaders’ calls to flee. We can thank the Nation-State Law for revealing the absolute wickedness behind the expulsion.

Now it is also impossible to hide behind the argument that Ben-Gurion agreed to the Partition Plan for Palestine in 1947. The truth has been bared to all, since the basic law declares that “The Land of Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and the place of the establishment of the State of Israel.” Nothing about a partition or a Palestinian state. Nothing. The Land of Israel is for the Jewish people.

The law’s other hue, which would be funny if it weren’t so tragic, is embodied in the image of the mother of the law in its first version, MK Tzipi Livni, who had also demanded that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

At the time, we explained to the sane people that with the approval of the UN Partition Plan, the entire world had recognized Israel as the expression of the Jewish people’s self-determination. We also said that this nationalist move would not bode well, as it was the work of the extremists. Now that this shameful racist-state law has passed, it would be interesting to hear the position of the ideological priestess of the law’s first incarnation, Prof. Ruth Gavison, who is currently enveloped in media silence. Perhaps the distinguished professor doesn’t care, since her place is safe with the masters, not with the servants.

While the law has indeed missed the boat of history, this is what makes it dangerous. Its executors are operating outside the historical context and the clash with reality will be painful for us all.

If Trump understands that Israel is not a Jewish state when 20 percent of the population is Arab, then every toddler can understand it.

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