Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Other Side of Israel's Jewish Character

You'll be surprised to know that several Zionist letter writers have indignantly objected to The Australian's description, in a headline, of Israel as an apartheid state (see the previous post).

Israel and the 'a' word together! In The Australian! Is nothing sacred?

Robert Magid's letter in today's issue, however, is the only one that touches on the substance behind the charge of apartheid. As an apologist for Israel he can hardly afford to expand on the matter in such a public forum without giving the game away. Magid's strategy, therefore, is to mumble something about the Jewish state's "character," hoping it will slip through unquestioned, and divert us with an unlikely and irrelevant tale about Somali refugees.

Needless to say, MERC is not diverted.  Here's Magid's opening mumble:

"Apartheid refers to a system based on racial discrimination (Living under the cloud of Israel's cruel apartheid, 5-6/5). The issue in this case is family reunion, a very complex situation in the only Jewish state that wishes to retain its character just as all its neighbouring Arab states wish to retain theirs."

By "system, " Magid can only be referring to a political system where racism is regulated in law through acts of parliament (or, in Israel's case, the Knesset).

In Israel's apartheid legislation, the categories Jew/non-Jew mirror apartheid South Africa's White/Black. It is this distinction in law between Jews and non-Jews that make Israel an apartheid state.

The most important of Israel's apartheid laws is the Law of Return, which determines who can and can't migrate to Israel, a key Zionist obsession from the 1917 Balfour Declaration to the present. The Law of Return stipulates that an immigrant to Israel must be a Jew (or the child or grandchild of a Jew), religiously defined as having a Jewish mother or grandmother. Although there are other apartheid laws, based on keeping the land in Jewish hands*, it's the Law of Return that primarily concerns us here.

[*See my 24/5/10 post Second-Class Citizen Khalid.]

Now to Magid's second sentence, specifically the bit about the "only Jewish state that wishes to retain its character."

By "character," Magid means Jewish character - but is too coy to say so.

The Jewish state wishes to retain its Jewish character.

Substitute white for Jewish and you can see why he doesn't linger on the matter: 'the only white state that wishes to retain its white character'. Anyone banging on about Australia's white character, for example, would rightly be dismissed as a fully paid up member of the lunatic fringe. However, here we are, in 2012, and it's still apparently respectable to defend Israel's Jewish character.

And just how did Israel acquire its Jewish character? Simple - by creating a Jewish majority.

And how did it manage this? Also simple - by expelling what was then Palestine's non-Jewish majority in 1948.

Yes, that sacrosanct Jewish 'character' came entirely at the expense of non-Jewish Palestinians, both Christian and Muslim.

And Taiseer and Lana Khatib, the subject of John Lyons' report, are simply two of the now millions of Palestinian victims of Israel's racist obsession with maintaining its Jewish character. He, a member of the Palestinian remnant that managed to escape expulsion in 1948, she a representative of those expelled beyond Israel's 1948 borders - most still in refugee camps scattered around the Middle East. These 1948 refugees must stay where they are so that Israel can retain its Jewish character.

Robert Magid would have us believe that the Khatib's predicament is terribly "complex." It isn't.

You need only remember that the lives of indigenous Palestinians such as the Khatibs must forever be disrupted and put on hold, as must the lives of all 1948 refugees and their descendants, simply so that, in addition to calling Sydney home, Robert Magid can also call Israel home.

[NB: Robert Magid is the publisher of The Australian Jewish News.]

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