ln every meeting with a European parliamentarian or American diplomat, I say that no one for whom the future of Israel is close to their heart is allowed to oppose an initiative that brings the end of the occupation nearer. Yes, I know that my position contradicts the policy of my elected government. In every conversation with a Jewish activist from the United States or with a Jewish friend from Belgium, when I am asked what my opinion is of the Jewish nation-state law proposed by my prime minister, I say it is an anti-democratic law that distances a fifth of Israeli citizens from their country.
Yes, I understand that this proposed law enjoys the support of a majority of the members of the 19th Knesset, and its chances of passing in the 20th Knesset are good. In every meeting with a human rights activist from overseas, when I am asked about the so-called anti-infiltration law, I express my opinion that this law is evil, racist and despicable. And I have not forgotten that the law passed with a majority of the votes of Knesset members who bothered to take part in the vote.
As Israel Harel mentions in his op-ed “Oh ye sons of the Maccabees! Don’t place the Israeli government in line with fascist regimes” (Haaretz.com, December 17), I cried Vive la France in an article I published on Al-Monitor.com, “Europe Ramps Up Push for Peace” (December 15). I praised French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on his important speech in the National Assembly, in which he declared the time has come to stop the games of the “peace process” and to put an end to the Israeli occupation as soon as possible.
I side with the more than 1,000 patriotic Israelis who signed a petition calling on the parliaments in Europe to recognize Palestine and save Israel from the occupation’s wickedness. If only a million Israelis would place their signatures alongside those of A.B. Yehoshua, Amos Oz, and David Grossman. If only the Europeans, Americans and the rest of the world would listen and feel the outcry of these good people. Every time that the Arabs or Iranians threaten to harm Israel, this country’s governments set out to woo the nations of the world. When the United States demands that Israel freeze construction in the settlements, the right rushes to enlist the help of the Jewish lobby in the United States and the evangelist donors of the settlement enterprise.
The prime minister of Israel has a newspaper funded with the money of a foreign gambling tycoon and his Israeli emigrant wife. At Israel’s request, the donor nations, lead by Europe, have financed the occupation for the past 20 years. Until 1994, the Israeli taxpayer bore the responsibility for paying the salaries of the teachers, police and doctors in the occupied territories. Since the Palestinian Authority replaced the military government, the donor nations have transferred over 100 billion shekels to the PA. Yes, 100,000,000,000, there are no extra zeroes here.
Harel claims there is no precedent for inviting foreign intervention in a democratic nation, where the media is free, there is freedom to organize, the right to vote is guaranteed and the courts are independent. But today there is no similar situation in which a democratic country controls by force millions of people, deprives them of the freedom of movement, expropriates their land and steals their meager natural resources. The two separate systems of law that exist in the territories are anti-democratic in its worst fashion.
The use Harel and his friends make of the language of democracy is in the best case sanctimonious hypocrisy, and in the worst case malicious cynicism. If there is a lesson the enlightened world learned from the horrors of the 20th century, it is that human rights are a universal value, and they must not be handed over to a society that is killing itself and its nearby surroundings. Use of all the legal means available to prevent this conspiracy is a democratic requirement, no less important than the principle of the rule of the majority that the right bandies about.
Harel and his neighbors in the settlements of Ofra and Silwan, the proponents of the Jewish nation-state law and the persecutors of the asylum seekers are the very same people who are defaming the country. Israelis who ask the European parliaments to recognize Palestine, whose voices of protest against the Jewish nation-state law are carried far away across the seas and who criticize in every language the “Law for the Prevention of Infiltration,” are protecting the remnants of Israel’s good name.
Akiva Eldar is a senior columnist for the Al-Monitor website’s Israel Pulse.
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