The Apartheid State We’re In

The time has come to clearly state: Apartheid law? No thanks. Before it's too late for Israel.

Haredi Jews in Bnei Brak, Israel
Uriel Sinai

Following the recent warning from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that, without a diplomatic solution, Israel is liable to become an apartheid state, the Israeli government is trying to cement that apartheid as fast as it can, through legislation.

The Basic Law being advanced, which seeks to make Israel “the state of the Jewish People,” separates Israelis into first-class citizens (Jews) and second-class citizens (minorities), as well as transparent citizens – those with no citizenship or right to vote.

The purpose of the proposed Basic Law is to cancel the worn-out oxymoron “Jewish and democratic state,” and make it clear that Judaism trumps democracy.

This legislation is the precursor to the annexation law: It will make it possible to annex territories without giving rights to the residents therein – which is, of course, the right’s wet dream.

Even without this Basic Law, Israel is become more and more Jewish, and less and less democratic. The oppression and occupation mechanisms are in force not only against the Palestinians, but also secular Israelis.

Religious coercion governs our lives: marriage, divorce, public transportation, kashrut and burial. Any hope we have of being released from this coercion is quickly fading away.

Even the Yesh Atid party, which supposedly opposes religious coercion, gives in on these issues, preferring its pact with Habayit Hayehudi over a war on issues of religion and state. Instead of mandatory core curricula for ultra-Orthodox children, we’ve recently been informed of a Benjamin Netanyahu initiative to include Talmud studies in every school.

Israeli Orthodox Judaism asserts itself not only against secular Jews but religious Jews of other denominations as well, including Conservative and Reform, thus alienating Jewish communities in the United States and around the world.

The Chief Rabbinate has become – with government support – a tyrannical monopoly, extorting money to no end. Businesses throughout the country are forced to pay kashrut supervisors. Civil marriage is impossible within Israel, in contrast to any other functioning state. Anyone holding a religious wedding ceremony not under the auspices of the Rabbinate is breaking the law and risks a two-year prison sentence.

Even Shula Zaken was required to perform a religious ritual ceremony that would allow her to break a vow not to divulge any secrets about her ex-boss, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

A rare window of opportunity – a coalition without any ultra-Orthodox parties – is quickly closing with the advent of this immoral Basic Law, which only increases discrimination against the secular Israelis being drafted into the Israel Defense Forces.

Discrimination against women and minorities is also increasing, and if you’re a Palestinian child, apparently it’s okay for the police to throw you out of a vehicle in the middle of the night, 15 kilometers from your home north of Ramallah.

Reports recently surfaced of an Israeli who married a South Korean woman and brought her to Israel after living together in Korea. She was deported upon arrival, despite the fact she was legally married to an Israeli citizen.

A government that acts in such a way is a government not even trying to disguise its racism. Perhaps a clause should be added to the Basic Law prohibiting intermarriage, in order to preserve racial purity?

The Jewish state is a self-destruction mechanism for Israel, and time is in its favor. Already, over half of the babies born in Israel are born to ultra-Orthodox or religious families. In a generation or two there won’t be just a religious majority here, but an ultra-Orthodox majority that opposes the government, and working in general.

Will Israel become a halakhic state? Or perhaps, in a generation or two, Israel will disappear from the map as a political entity and continue, if at all, as a boorish, exiled community?

The time has come to clearly state: Apartheid law? No thanks. And perhaps this is also the time, 66 years after the War of Independence, to fight for our independence. Instead of a Jewish state let’s found, once and for all, the State of Israel.