Israel Committing Itself to Apartheid in New ‘Basic Law’
by Michael Novick, Anti-Racist Action L.A.
Israel’s ruling parties, backed by Trump’s decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem as soon as this May, is committing the state irrevocably to apartheid by drafting a new ‘basic law,’ the equivalent of a constitution, defining Israel as the “nation-state of the Jewish people,” replacing an earlier law which defines it as a Jewish and democratic state. The law also eliminates the status of Arabic as an official language, restricting that status exclusively to Hebrew. As reported by Al Jazeera, the bill, which had languished for seven years, is being pushed rapidly forward. httpss://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/03/israeli-parliament-endorses-nation-state-bill-reading-180315192911365.html
According to Jonathan Cook’s report on Al-Jazeera, the Basic Law paves the way for Israel’s right-wing government to consolidate and expand the annexation of Palestinian lands under occupation in East Jerusalem and the West Bank – and stymie any legal moves intended to prevent such efforts. The bill is seen as a response to legal rulings under the previous basic law, which characterized Israel as ‘democratic,’ that impeded some governmental discrimination against Arab Israelis.
Cook writes, “It also promotes [exclusively] Jewish communities that strictly enforce rules to exclude Israel’s 1.8 million Palestinian citizens. It reiterates Israel’s mission to ‘ingather the exiles,’ restricting immigration to Jews only, and prioritizes the rights of Jews abroad over those of the country’s Palestinian citizens.”
The law, which was first introduced in 2011, is moving forward partly in response to the Trump Administration’s much more naked embrace of both Zionism and Arab reaction (headquartered in Saudi Arabia), which have always worked in tandem with US imperialism. It can also be seen as a response to the existential racial/religious panic caused by disclosures that the Palestinian and Arab population within historic Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean, including the West Bank, Gaza and the Arab population of Israel and Jerusalem, at about 6.5 million, is equal to the Jewish population. This can also be seen as a motivating factor behind the recent racist Israeli efforts to expel African refugees.
The Israeli legislative efforts are paralleled by US efforts to pass a federal law criminalizing support for the increasingly effective ‘boycott, divestment and sanctions’ “BDS” movement, which seeks through non-violent international action led by Palestinian civil society, to put pressure on Israel to achieve three goals: an end to the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, full equal rights for all Israeli Arabs, and the right of return for Palestinian refugees from camps (in Lebanon, Jordan and elsewhere) to their family homes. (Those Palestinian refugees are outside the calculation of parity between Palestinians and Israeli Jews inside historic Palestine.) Pro-Israel legislators and lobbyists are pushing hard both in Congress and in several states, including California, to criminalize advocacy for such a boycott, reflecting the growing impact of the academic and cultural boycott of Israeli apartheid. A recent poll of young Jews in the Bay Area, for example, showed much more support for BDS efforts, and only a diminishing minority identifying with Israel.
Support for Zionist settler-colonialism and Arab and Muslim reaction also underpin other recent moves by the US, reflected by Trump’s appointment of John Bolton as his national security adviser. These include Trump’s threat to scrap the Iran nuclear accord, US backing and rearmament of Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, and tacit US approval of Turkey’s fascist incursion into Kurdish areas of Syria to attempt to crush the Rojava revolution in Afrin and elsewhere.
April 14-15, there is a national call for actions against US militarism and aggression. It is long past time for an anti-war movement to reassert itself powerfully inside the US, to oppose US imperialism and its Zionist and Arab/Muslim reactionary clients and partners. The young people leading the struggle against gun violence in the US must take on the US role as the main weapons producer and arms dealer in the world. The movement for environmental sustainability must take on the US military as one of the most environmentally-destructive and wasteful forces in the world. The movement for gender justice must attack the role of US military bases around the world as exploiters and oppressors of women (both those indigenous to the countries being intervened militarily, and those inside the US war machine itself). The efforts within the US Jewish community to oppose and end the morally bankrupt and corrupting occupation of the West Bank and Gaza must embrace the tool of BDS as the most effective way to accomplish that.
Hands off Rojava, Yemen, Syria, Gaza, Iran and Korea! US bases and troops out of Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania! Ban weapons in space and all nuclear weapons!