The abominable nation-state law was admittedly passed at this particular moment for contemptible political reasons: Elections are only a Knesset session away, and in the background are the investigations of the prime minister, a despair-inducing front devoid of achievement in the south and a terrifying front in the north.
But these circumstances, while genuine and rational, don’t hide what comes next. And what comes next is clear. Israel, with the support of a substantial portion of its Jewish population, is en route to apartheid, both de facto and de jure, which will evict the Arabs from civil society. Next in line for the chopping block: leftists, who are going with the flow to various degrees, and ultimately, anyone defined as disloyal to the government (that is, “the state”).
This is not a cataclysmic lamentation or a stylized prophecy of destruction. It’s reality, plain and simple. The moment you begin fiddling with democracy – that is, creating differences in the level of equality to which citizens are entitled and conditioning it on various conditions – the road is clear.
The attempts to bribe the Druze, whose pain, unlike that of the other Arabs, evokes empathy from Jewish Israelis, only makes the picture clearer: The government is creating castes among minorities and citizens in general based on the degree of sympathy the government has for them and the whims of the masses.
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What can one do in light of this reality but rend one’s garments, weep bitter tears and protest at demonstrations whose importance is beyond price, but whose contribution to changing the course of reality will be limited to the point of nonexistence?
Israel’s Jewish and democratic camp has only one partner for building a front against the settler right, with its hallmarks of fascism, which is currently making historic changes to the country’s character. That partner is the Arabs.
And when we speak of making such a partnership, we aren’t talking about a Jewish and democratic camp that includes only people like opposition MKs Tamar Zandberg and Tzipi Livni, but also former senior defense officials like Gabi Ashkenazi, Tamir Pardo and Moshe Ya’alon, who still aren’t willing to be portrayed, heaven forbid, as leftists, but whom the modern right is already rejecting like a transplant, because such security establishment figures’ consciences bar them from submerging themselves in today’s right wing and joining in the destruction of democracy.
Nevertheless, it’s not only the Jews on whom the burden of effecting a change in consciousness falls. The Arabs will also have to make what they see as painful concessions.
As long as MKs Ahmad Tibi, Jamal Zahalka and Aida Touma-Sliman keep talking about two states – a state of all its citizens on one side and the nation-state of the Palestinian people on the other – they’ll remain within the bounds of their own narrow community, plus a few thousand Jewish voters following their conscience or a fad. They’ll have no chance of taking power, no ability to have a major impact, no access to the resources that could save the voters from the bitter fate written on the wall.
Therefore, they’ll have to swallow hard and accept the Law of Return and the fact that Israel within the 1967 borders is the national home of the Jewish people worldwide, in order to enable the establishment of a Palestinian state and save themselves and us from the nightmare of occupation and apartheid.
This won’t be an alliance of love. It won’t even be an encounter between friends. But this is the only way to survive as a citizen of Israel and not become a political prisoner in a Bezalel Smotrich-like theocracy.
The battle for life requires passing through the deep wadis of painful compromise and getting scratched by the thorns of upsetting concessions. It requires changing our methods and our worldviews, because there’s no choice. Because we want to live. And just for your information, we are in a fight for our lives.