Democratic Jews Elected a Military Dictatorship

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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Major General Yehudah Fuchs, last month.
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

This is what dictatorial regimes do and have always done: They declare that anyone opposing the dictatorship is outlawed. This is what Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs did. He is the representative of the unelected military junta that rules the West Bank. Last Wednesday, he signed ordinances declaring five more Palestinian organizations banned associations (a further organization among the six that were declared terror organizations by the defense minister two weeks ago had been declared a banned association more than a year ago.)

One could talk about each of these banned Palestinian organizations and extol its struggle against tyranny and in support of strengthening Palestinian society. One could write yet again about the glaring injustice inherent in punishing entire organizations with their hundreds of employees due to suspicions and charges against three of their members, whose trial is still underway. One could show the ridiculous nature of the claims of disguised terror activities. Our colleagues at the online magazine +972 have done this well, comparing the half-truths appearing in a report about these six organizations, which Israel bombarded European foreign ministries, to the more general statements, supposedly incriminatory, made by two Palestinians subjected to the harsh treatment of the Shin Bet security service.

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Their statements revealed the transfer of funds to a dabke dancing course. Indeed, as I learned during my stay in Gaza in 2008, one of the things that annoyed Hamas most was the mixed-gender dancing and the dabke classes that were encouraged by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. But when the entity defining what is permitted and what is not is violating international law all the time, allowing violent Jews to continue rampaging throughout the West Bank daily, intimidating hundreds of thousands of people, killing and destroying among a civilian population as a matter of routine, I refuse to relate to the military commander’s declarations as a yardstick.

There are dictatorial regimes that derive their legitimacy from God, the church, some scripture or other, Marxism or the sanctity of private capital and the right to exploit others. Israel’s military dictatorship derives its aura and legitimacy from the only democracy for Jews in the world. And also, to our tragedy, from the six million Jews whom Nazi Germany and its collaborators in Europe murdered 80 years ago.

Jews in Israel have the very democratic right to decide almost unanimously that the land of a certain village is for Jews only. The Knesset has passed all kinds of laws dealing with land in order to steal from the Palestinian citizens of Israel. In the West Bank, the military commander steals land by declaring it “state land.” Jews have the democratic, legal and historical right to expel Palestinians from their homes in Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah, to decide they are not a people and that their homeland is not Palestine, to demand the demolishing of their playgrounds in Susya and in Khan al-Ahmar, to define when the massacres we committed in Kafr Qasem, Dawima and Khan Yunis are deemed massacres and when not. And these democratic Jews with their free media, which feels free not to report on these issues, have the right to live in peace with all that the army and settlers are doing in their name.

In regular dictatorships, some small minority group takes power by force. In the only democratic dictatorship in the world, almost the entire nation allows a government it freely elected to continue deploying a junta that rules over another people. For 54 years, every few years (or months), in a supremely democratic process, Jewish Israelis elect a government that bestows dictatorial authority onto military commanders.

The full moral and historical responsibility for the crimes Israel is committing against the Palestinian people lies with the Jewish people in Israel, as well as with millions of Jews around the world who can become Israeli citizens instantly, and who continue to support Israel’s occupation financially, emotionally and politically.

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