Saying 'Israel Is Not a Jewish State' Is No Longer Incendiary

In Israel and in the Diaspora, many Jews refuse to see what is patently obvious to others: Israel is neither Jewish nor democratic.

Rogel Alpher
Rogel Alpher
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Israeli soldiers argue with Palestinians as they protest not being able to work their farm land near the Jewish settlement of Teqoa.
Israeli soldiers argue with Palestinians as they protest not being able to work their farm land near the Jewish settlement of Teqoa.Credit: AP
Rogel Alpher
Rogel Alpher

As of November 2015, Israel is not a Jewish state. I don’t understand how there can be any argument over this statement. In the areas under Israel’s control, which include of course East Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, Israel is a binational state, because two nations inhabit it. This is a simple fact. True, official Israeli sovereignty does not extend over Judea and Samaria, but Judea and Samaria are under Israeli occupation.

If the term occupation irritates you, for purposes of discussion we can replace it with “control” – freedom of action by the Israel Defense Forces throughout Judea and Samaria is the proof of Israeli control over these areas.

Not only is Israel for all intents and purposes a binational state, it is also for all intents and purposes an apartheid state, because it deprives the Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria of their basic rights. Jewish Israeli citizens live in complete blindness. They repress the simple fact that Israel is a binational state imposing an apartheid regime over the Palestinian people living in areas under its control. They continue to think of it as a Jewish and democratic state.

They are not the only ones to repress facts. Many Jews throughout the world do the same. They continue to treat Israel as the Jewish state, that is, their state. Most Jewish citizens of Israel, like most Jews in the Diaspora, deny the fact that Israeli control in the territories has extinguished Zionism. The goal of Zionism was to ensure the existence of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel. However, Israel does not exist as a Jewish state, but rather as a binational state. And it is not democratic, because, as noted, an apartheid regime exists in it.

I apologize that this article is written in language that seems intended for people with comprehension difficulties. But we are dealing here with an attempt to explain simple facts to people who are blind to them.

This attempt is what social media posts call “provocation.” It isn’t. There is nothing provocative about it. The truth is that it is banal. Stating simple, obvious facts that everyone can see is a banal act. The only way to preserve Israeli control over Judea and Samaria and simultaneously maintain Israel’s standing as a Jewish and democratic country is to make the Palestinians disappear, to cause them to evaporate. If there are no Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, Israel will indeed be Jewish and democratic. But there are Palestinians in Judea and Samaria. They are not going to evaporate. That is also a simple fact.

And the Jews of Israel and the world are in denial of that fact, too. The attempt to have them face this fact is also called “provocation.” And thus, to the Jews of Israel and the world, reality itself is a kind of provocation. When life is an illusion, reality is a provocation.

The response to provocation is anger, verbal violence, threats of physical violence, shaming, shunning. There an attempt at silencing those who are “provocative” – the people who insist on reflecting reality – or making them go away. The fact that they are allowed to express their opinion is presented as testimony to the existence of Israeli democracy.

But they are afraid to express their opinion. In Israel the public atmosphere is frightening and threatening. It encourages “provocative” people – those who merely want to state simple facts – to be quiet lest something bad happen to them, or to leave the country.

That is the way the situation is. The desperate Palestinians react to it with knife attacks. Israel responds to those with brutal vengeance. And the Jews in Israel and the world are convinced that Israel is Jewish and democratic and has a glorious future ahead.

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