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For Arab citizens, 'Jewish and democratic' means demographic war

While much of the world justly focuses on land theft in the occupied territories, we must not forget that Israel uses the pretense of ‘Jewish and democratic’ to actively dispossess its own Arab citizens.

Hundreds of Bedouin residents and supporters march toward a bulldozer in the village of Umm al-Hiran, in a protest against the plan to establish a new Jewish town on its ruins, August 27, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Hundreds of Bedouin residents and supporters march toward a bulldozer in the village of Umm al-Hiran, in a protest against the plan to establish a new Jewish town on its ruins, August 27, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Israeli citizens who may be feeling doubtful about the efficiency of their country’s institutions should take a hard look at the Jewish Agency’s Settlement Division.

According to Haaretz, the division has set forth a new plan to establish Jewish towns adjacent to Arab communities in the Negev Desert and the Galilee, in such a way that would hamper the development of the latter.

The Settlement Division, funded entirely by the Israeli government, is the most accurate representation of the regime’s ability to envision and implement its long-term thinking. Established following the 1967 war in order to “export” Israeli knowledge and experience in “redeeming the land,” the division is also the most precise articulation of Israel’s ethnocratic colonialism, as well as its attempt to engineer the country for the benefit of Jewish supremacy. Or in other words: its “Jewish and democratic” nature. After receiving a mandate to begin work on the Galilee and the Negev, the settlement division has continued its work unabated. The goal might be new, but the policy has never actually changed.

The new plan won’t surprise those who refuse to be blind to the demographic war Israel has been waging against its Arab citizens — primarily but not exclusively through its land policies — since the state’s founding. “Jewish and democratic” is one hell of a beast, and it demands both demographic and geographic domination.

The Settlement Division’s plan reminded me of something a Palestinian friend once told me. “In your ‘Jewish and democratic’ hallucination,” he said, “the ‘democratic’ aspect is far more dangerous to us than the ‘Jewish’ one.” He is right, of course. Were we to get rid of Israel’s “democratic” nature, we would get full-blown apartheid in which the minority rules forcefully over the oppressed majority — which lives in quasi-autonomous enclaves — through discriminatory laws. Who knows, perhaps the world would have put an end to this shameful reality long ago.

View of the separation wall and the West Bank village of Beit Jala as it seen from Gilo, Jerusalem, December 4, 2016. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

View of the separation wall and the West Bank village of Beit Jala as seen from Gilo, Jerusalem, December 4, 2016. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

But the pretense of imposing Jewish supremacy through “democracy” is what truly dictates the demographic war. One that will allow for Jewish control through ostensibly democratic means, rather than through “exceptional measures,” such as in an apartheid regime.

It’s not that Israel ever refrained from using such “exceptional measures.” The process of building the Zionist colonial project began with the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of people, who were either expelled or fled from their land without being able to return. Israel understood from the onset that in order to maintain its demographic power, it would need — along with actively encouraging Jewish immigration to Israel — to restrict Arabs’ expansion and development. This is where the state’s land policies came in.

Since the founding of the state, land belonging to the Arab population — which makes up 20 percent of the total population — has been halved, while Arab local authorities are in charge of less than four percent of the land in the country. Take the city of Sakhnin, for example whose territory decreased to 15 percent of its original size after Israel’s establishment. Furthermore, it is no coincidence that since 1948, over 1,000 new Jewish communities have been established across the country, while not a single Arab town has been built to serve the needs of the Palestinian population. The exceptions have been townships such as Tel Sheva and Rahat in the Negev, built to concentrate the Bedouin population in underdeveloped ghettos so as to allow the state to more easily expropriate Bedouin land.

Bedouins collect their belongings from the ruins of their demolished homes in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran, January 18, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Bedouins collect their belongings from the ruins of their demolished homes in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran, January 18, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Due to years of misdeeds committed in the occupied territories, most Israelis link the division to the settlement enterprise. It is easy to say that Israel “imports” these practices from the West Bank to Israel. This view sits well with the “slippery slope” narrative, which warns against the dangers of the occupation corrupting Israeli society from within, lest we fail to put an and to it. But precisely the opposite is true: the Settlement Division grew out of a governmental body that actively Judaized the land long before the occupation in 1967. In fact, it was established for the purpose of exporting those colonial practices — implemented in Israel after 1948 — to the occupied territories.

Israel knows that the fiction of “Jewish and democratic” will be put to the test not in Hebron or Ofra, but in the Negev and the Galilee. While Netanyahu and Liberman fantasize about shortcuts using “population exchanges” for maintaining demographic dominance, the Settlement Division has been persistently promoting a policy of strangling Arab communities, all while continuing to Judaize the land. Yes, this may be a far more effortful task than swiftly causing hundreds of thousands of Arab citizens to disappear in an instant. But no one ever said this whole “Jewish and democratic” thing was going to be a walk in the park.

This post was originally published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Lewis from Afula

      Yes, 972 mag does not believe in the Jewish and Democratic state. They believe in the Islamic Sharia state run by Hamas.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        ​+972 Magazine is so obviously and unstintingly in favor of human rights for all that your charge is an absurdity, Lewis. It does not even rise to slander. It’s just comedic. (Even Bannon admitted the alt-right are clowns.)

        I think you secretly love the extremists on the other side. So much the better for your Greater Israel Above All project. Those people marching with torches in Charlottesville weren’t chanting about Confederate statues and “heritage,” they were chanting about Jews. The Israeli alt-right is likewise really chanting about Arabs. This one’s for you, Lewis:

        “The Israeli alt-right is not neo-Nazi. But a thousand neo-Nazi flowers bloom on its margins that no one thinks about weeding out. Fascism in Israel has long been accepted. Neo-Nazis haven’t, but the distinction between the two is vague. If the extremist Lehava organization isn’t neo-Nazi, what is? If Beitar Jerusalem’s La Familia fan group isn’t neo-Nazi, what is? If the firebombing of the Dawabsheh family home in the West Bank village of Duma and the kidnapping and murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir aren’t neo-Nazi acts, what are? And what about the Arabic-language highway sign near the settlement of Halamish declaring: “This area is under the control of the Jews. The entry of Arabs is forbidden and constitutes a risk to your life!” The flag parade by Jews on Jerusalem Day is a state-sponsored neo-Nazi provocation, like the Purim rioting in Hebron. The Jewish community in Hebron is in essence neo-Nazi. Go see, judge for yourself….”
        read more: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.807833

        Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        ​+972 Magazine is so obviously and unstintingly in favor of human rights for all that your charge is an absurdity, Lewis. It does not even rise to slander. It’s just comedic. (Even Bannon admitted the alt-right are clowns.)

        I think you secretly love the extremists on the other side. So much the better for your Greater Israel Above All project. Those people marching with torches in Charlottesville weren’t chanting about Confederate statues and “heritage,” they were chanting about Jews. The Israeli alt-right is likewise really chanting about Arabs. This one’s for you, Lewis:
        read more: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.807833

        Reply to Comment
        • Lewis from Afula

          Ben, there is no Alt-Right in Israel. You keep importing American interpretations and ideological concepts to the Israeli scene. The politics here are different. The young millenials (55) are overwhelmingly Leftists.

          Transfer of all terrorists & their expanded families to the East Bank is the only sane solution. When Europe does it, so will we.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            There is certainly an Israeli alt-right, but things are relative. Since your Israel’s center-right to right wing approaches what in America is the alt-right, you start from a different baseline. Your Judeo-supremacist, homicidal, ethic cleansing, death-to-Arabs ethic–is it mainstream, Lewis? Or is it alt-right, Lewis? Fill us in on these lovely nuances of the Israeli political scene. I’m sure it makes a huge difference whether gross human rights violations and war crimes are committed by “the Israeli Right” versus the “the Israeli alt-right.” Tell us, is Lehava simply “right wing” or is it “alt-right”? I rather think it is simply “main stream right wing but we don’t talk about that stuff in public especially when the Americans and those nosy western gentiles are listening in; gotta keep up appearances.”

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            But hey, if you want to pretend that only Israelis really know what is going on, Lewis, then realize that plenty of Israeli Jews consider folks like you to be jihadists. To be clear, mainstream jihadists, not alt-right jihadists.
            http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.809140

            Reply to Comment
          • Lewis from Afula

            My text above was cut off or accidentally deleted. The young millenials (UNDER 30) are overwhelmingly right wing while elderly (over 55) are overwhelmingly left wing. The long term trend is apparent. When Europe gets round to expel its Arabs, we will expel OURS in Judea-Samaria.

            Ben – yuu cannot us expect us to be more catholic than the Pope can you?

            Reply to Comment
          • duh

            “we will expel OURS in Judea-Samaria.”

            I love how everytime an Israeli barks about expelling non-Jewish persons, they act like they invented the idea and the Zionist movement has never, ever done such a thing before. And there’s no way this aktion would be extended to non-Jewish citizens of Israel in the ’49 armistice lines itself.

            Of course, considering we have this thing in history called the Spanish Inquisition, you might be just about as Catholic as Pope Innocent III.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben


            ​@ Lewis from Afula: I have no idea what you’re talking about. Germany today puts “the Jewish state” to shame with respect to human rights, tolerance, avoiding racism, helping the stranger, democracy, etc. Not even close. How’s that for historical irony? You are sincerely hoping Islamic terrorism provokes mass ethnic cleansing in Europe so that you can, under the cover of that, commit grave crimes and steal someone’s land. You are rooting for the terrorists, and at the expense of other people. That makes you a really cynical, devious, bad person in my view. You apparently think you have some right to Judeofascism — but god forbid anyone treat Jews anywhere the way you routinely treat Arab people. Hebrew speaking jihaidsts are still jihadists. Judeo-fascists are still fascists.

            Reply to Comment
          • Lewis from Afula

            Germany today is a joke country with a long term birth rate of 1.2 kids per family. The whole thing is unsustainable. From 2020 onwards, Germany is going to implode demographically, with insufficient workers to support a growing proportion of pensioners.

            Merkel tried to compensate for this by importing Arabs but that has literally “blown up” in her face. HAHHA !!

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            I guess you’ll have to carry the neo-fascist torch for poor, dear, tired old Germany then, Lewis, carry on this proud tradition of ethnic cleansing and lebensraum grabbing. Hail Feiglin. Poor old worn out Germany lost its fascist steam after 1945. It’s your turn. And Trump’s. You have a great weight on your shoulders, young man, Make sure you live up to the 1930’s forebears who blazed the pioneering path for you. Go to it tiger. Have you been practicing your stiff armed salute? You can model Bennett. He does a good one. Hebrew speaking fascists are still fascists. Hebrew speaking jihadis are still jihadis.

            “Let’s call things by their proper names here. Arpaio is, of course, a white supremacist. But he’s more than that. There’s a word for political regimes that round up members of minority groups and send them to concentration camps, while rejecting the rule of law: What Arpaio brought to Maricopa, and what the president of the United States has just endorsed, was fascism, American style.”
            https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/28/opinion/fascism-arpaio-pardon-trump.html?mcubz=3&_r=0

            Reply to Comment
          • Lewis from Afula

            I am against sending Arabs to any concentration camps. My solution is repatriation to their own country (Jordan) which is less than 20 miles down the road from where they are now.

            Reply to Comment

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