Monday, May 24, 2010

Second-Class Citizen Khaled

The Australian's opinion editor, Rebecca Weisser, just cannot comprehend why Palestinians don't raise their champagne glasses and toast the birth of the Jewish state on May 15:

"The Palestinian diaspora in Australia is facing an unexpected catastrophe. Normally, May 15, Israel's Independence Day, is the most important day of the year for celebrating their victimhood: the catastrophe, as they see it, of the founding of Israel." (Journalist says only truth will set Palestine free, 15/5/10)

One 'brave' Israeli Arab soul, however, refuses to celebrate his 'Palestinian' victimhood on May 15:

"But, this year, visiting fresh from the streets of Gaza, Ramallah and Jerusalem is Khaled Abu Toameh, an Israeli Arab Muslim journalist, who declares: 'I'd rather be a second-class citizen in Israel than a first-class citizen in any Arab country'. And some in the diaspora are not happy about his visit." (ibid)

Mind you, it's not that Abu T's exactly over the moon about being a second-class Israeli: "If I were a Jew living in Israel, I would be very worried about the deterioration of relations between Jews and Arabs inside the country. We, the Israeli Arabs, have been extremely loyal to the State of Israel ever since its establishment. We are the Arabs who in 1948 did not challenge Israel's right to exist.* We accepted Israel. We welcomed Israel. We helped build Israel. Israel gave us passports, citizenship, okay. But... sadly, the State of Israel or the Israeli establishment were not equally loyal towards its Arab minority... I'm talking about employment, services, infrastructure. We continue to suffer from what [former prime minister] Ehud Olmert called a policy of systematic discrimination against the Arab minority. Now the good news is that Israel is not an apartheid state. But the bad news is that there is discrimination inside Israel. It's not just against Arabs - it's against Russians. It's against Ethiopians. It's against the elderly. It's against the disabled. If this policy continues and the Israeli establishment does not wake up and embark on an emergency plan to improve its relations with its Arab minority, the third intifada will be on the streets of Haifa and Akko, and the Negev and Galilee." (Citizen Khaled, The Australian Jewish News, 21/5/10)

Whence this mysterious, free-floating discrimination, sufficient to have Israeli Arabs (but not Russians, Ethiopians and the elderly) take to the streets in protest, but not sufficient to be called apartheid? Abu T doesn't say, but he's emphatic that, whatever its origin and nature, because Arabs can live in Jewish neighborhoods and go to Jewish schools, it's therefore not apartheid.

Leaving aside the question of just how many Arabs actually live in Jewish neighborhoods or go to Jewish schools, Abu T's PR line is that, because the obvious segregation of South African apartheid isn't replicated in Israel, it's therefore not an apartheid state. His other is to point the finger at alleged apartheid in the Arab/Muslim world: "I passed some Lebanese girls who were organising Israel Apartheid Week in Canada. I stopped at their information table and I asked them, 'Excuse me, which apartheid are you talking about?' They said, 'Of course, the Jewish state, and apartheid against the Palestinians'. And I asked them if they were from Lebanon. 'What about apartheid in Lebanon against the Palestinians, where in Lebanon there is a law that prevents Palestinians from working in more than 60 professions? By law, it's written in the law'. Can you imagine if the Knesset met tonight and passed a law banning Arabs from working in one profession?"

Put to one side the capital F fact that the only reason the Palestinians are in Lebanon is because Israel refuses to allow them to return to the homes and lands from which they were expelled by Zionist forces in 1948, an issue Abu T shows not the least interest in, and consider the implication of his final question - that Israel's Knesset has never actually passed anti-Arab/pro-Jewish legislation when in fact such legislation is fundamental to Israel's status as a Jewish state.

Our most reliable guide to Israel's apartheid legislation is Israeli scholar and activist, Uri Davis. In his invaluable treatise, Apartheid Israel (2003), Davis points out that apartheid is a political system where racism is regulated through acts of parliament, and shows that, in Israel's case, the main body of Israeli law, via its incorporation of the exclusivist constitutional stipulations of the World Zionist Organization (WZO), the Jewish Agency (JA) and the Jewish National Fund (JNF), incorporates a distinction between Jew and non-Jew. Although the Israeli Knesset is formally accountable to all its citizens, Jews and non-Jews alike, in the key areas of immigration, settlement and land development, the Knesset has passed laws ceding state sovereignty to, and vesting its responsibilities with, the WZO, the JA and the JNF, which are constitutionally committed to serving and promoting the interests of Jews and Jews only. In Davis' analysis, this legal deception has given rise to a veiled, but no less real, apartheid, which ensures, for example, that 93% of pre-67 Israel is retained for cultivation, development and settlement by, and for, Jews only.

Obviously though, when your trip to Australia is paid for by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), the United Israel Appeal (UIA), and the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, you're not going to go there.

[*We threw every flower we had at the Zionist forces!]

No comments: