Thursday, July 19, 2018

Israeli Apartheid: Communist and Left-wing forces condemn racist "nation-state" law

Joint List leader, MP Ayman Odeh, raises a black banner
during the discussion of the bill in Knesset.
Israel’s Parliament, the Knesset, approved the controversial nationality bill Thursday declaring Israel a nation-state for the Jewish people and downgrading the status of Arabic from official language to “special status.” It must be noted that Arabs make up 21% of Israel’s population. 

The basic law, approved with 62 votes in favor and 55 against, recognizes the Jewish people in Israel “have an exclusive right to national self-determination." It also includes the declaration of a “united Jerusalem” as the capital of Israel, despite the fact that East Jerusalem is internationally recognized as being under Israeli occupation.
Furthermore, the law affirms "the state sees the development of Jewish settlement as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation."

“This is a defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the history of the state of Israel,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset

Largely symbolic, the law was enacted just after the 70th anniversary of the birth of the state of Israel. It stipulates “Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it”.

Palestinian leaders condemned the move. “No racist law will undermine the rights of our people. We are proud of being a strong nation deeply rooted in our homeland,” Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said in a statement.

Arab lawmakers protested the bill’s approval arguing it is a codification of apartheid and ripping papers in a symbolic gesture, which prompted Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein to remove them from the plenum. Hadash MP Aida Touma-Souliman yelled at Netanyahu: "You passed an apartheid law, a racist law".

Reaction from Hadash-Joint List MPs

Ayman Odeh, chairman of the Joint List, raised a black flag during the debate in Knesset and later released a statement saying that Israel "passed a law of Jewish supremacy and told us that we will always be second-class citizens." Around 1.8 million Arabs live in Israel, they are the descendents of the Palestinians who remained in what is today Israel after the 1948 “War of Independence.”

"This is home for all of us" reads a banner, during
a protest in Tel Aviv on June 14th (Photo: Al Ittihad)
Thousands of demonstrators rallied in the streets of Tel Aviv on July 14, expressing their opposition to  the racist law. Among the thousands of demonstrators was MP Ayman Odeh (Hadash) who blasted the bill as a “law whose purpose is to jab a finger in the eye of a fifth of Israel’s population; spark a dispute and further polarize the society to make political gains for the Netanyahu tyranny.” Odeh said, “In a government that has lost all shame, that fears its own shadow, the majority tramples the minority, legislation is racist and the democratic space is under constant threat.”

“The nation-state bill won’t make us disappear, but it will do huge damage to democracy [in Israel]” he said. Tonight’s “mass protest is an important step in our fight against fascism.… Racist legislation of a government that fears power; of a majority that tramples the minority, will not remove us. We will remain in our homeland; we will remain here – two nations. The thousands who came here tonight give us hope that we can, in the future, achieve a state in which there will be equality and peace,” Odeh said. 
Hadash MK Dov Khenin (Joint List) said to protestors: “Now is the time to prevent a new war against the Palestinian people in Gaza… But what we see is that the far-right Netanyahu’s government is trying to hide the fact that it has no solutions for any of the country’s problems so it attempts to hide this and distract the citizens by incitement and racist bills.”
In a joint statement issued by the organizations- including the Communist Party of Israel (CPI)- participating in June 14th night protest they wrote: “The Nation-State Law would turn racism, discrimination and segregation into an inescapable part of our lives. More than that – racism and discrimination are becoming desired and central in the State of Israel. The Nation-State law will bring the exclusion of and damage to minorities to terrifying levels that we have never before witnessed. Our position is clear: all citizens – all – are equal."