Opinion

Intro to Racist Legislation

All the new nation-state law does is provide a stamp of approval to the customary practice of removing Arabs from places of Jewish habitation and the creation of 'Arab-rein' spaces

A banner with a political message and a picture of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is spread on the ground as members of the Israeli Druze community and their supporters demonstrate during a rally to protest against the 'Jewish Nation-State Law' in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on August 4, 2018.
AFP PHOTO / Jack Guez

One hundred twenty aliens from Mars landed on Earth and took over the seats in the Knesset. A strange creature landed from a faraway galaxy and took up residence on Balfour Street. Citizens of the Zionist colony rose up to wage battle against the invaders threatening its survival, but they only had meager, primitive weapons at their disposal: pens and clever language, demonstrations and rallies, speeches and articles, and a small macchiato. 

This is how it looks when memory is hiding. Because it wasn’t any alien monster that passed this terrifying law. The enemies of the people were elected in free elections. They received authority and permission from the public to do to them as they pleased, to abuse their country and dismantle the relative democracy that existed there. One who consented to be raped in this way has no excuse. She did not call out for help when they tied her up, she cannot claim she was attacked by the authorities either, because she is the authority, she is the sovereign and she is supposed to make the rules.

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The law sentencing democracy to death should not be a surprise. It only summarizes the ritual of hatred of the foreigner and the minorities, the deification of the sole leader, the disgust for the legal system and the civil war that has split the public for years: The supporters of freedom and equality facing the worshippers of the god, both the heavenly and the one on earth; messianic territorialists against liberals who have forgotten what it is to be citizens.

No, the law does not create a new reality, all it does is formulate the existing one in a precise, maybe even modulated, fashion. But it also is expected to be honored with the appropriate corrections, such as those that will turn the Supreme Court into the Sanhedrin, that will replace the State of Israel with the Land of Israel, and that will require the children of Israel to salute the picture of the leader that will be hung in every classroom.

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The new law is an executive summary whose purpose is to present to the chosen community of believers, the chosen people, what they have created so far with their own hands. All it does is provide a stamp of approval to the customary practice of removing Arabs from places of Jewish habitation and the creation of “Arab-rein” spaces, according to the description of the master race – and explicitly articulates the extent of the de facto authority of Judaism to regulate daily life according to halacha, Jewish religious law.

This is not a new situation. Even if the old laws forbade it, Arabs were kicked out of swimming pools and excluded from homes in Jewish cities, the Druze remained on the margins of the state budget, students in nonreligious schools were pushed onto the back benches and Haredi women were sent back near the exhaust pipes of the buses. The burning halachic sages of the settlements, who have gathered uncontrollable power, appointed themselves the overseers of legislation in Israel and two million Palestinians are suffocating in a brutal blockade in Gaza, without any civilian control or oversight. Everything is done under the glazed eyes of the public, which did not see nor did their ears hear, and if they did see or hear they did not respond or raise the alarm.

This law does not create a war between left and right; it is the trophy awarded to the team that was victorious in this war. The protests and demonstrations are an expression of the frustration of the fans of the team that lost, but there is no rematch. There is no game at all. Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said to Haaretz this week that “the law does not provide everything I would have wanted.” This may be a milestone as far as he is concerned, but certainly not the end of the road.

It would be best to prepare for the amendment to the nation-state law. The improved wording will not even require effort to write. It will certainly include: “An Israeli citizen is a subject of the state who is of Jewish or related blood, and proves by his conduct that he is willing and fit to faithfully serve the Jewish people and the State of Israel. The Israeli citizen is the sole bearer of full political rights in accordance with the law.” The original wording was passed back in 1935 with the title: Reich Citizenship Law. Just copy and paste.