Appreciate this article? +972 depends on your support.

Click here to help us keep going

Analysis News
Visit our Hebrew site, "Local Call" , in partnership with Just Vision.

Palestinian citizens will always be enemies in a Jewish state

The Or Commission’s report on the October 2000 events was a symbolic indictment of Israel’s ‘enemy doctrine’ toward its Palestinian citizens. But Israel has not absorbed the lessons of the report, because demands for equality remain anathema to the states raison d’être.

Joint List head Ayman Odeh speaks at the List's Arabic launch event, Nazareth. (Photo courtesy of the Joint List)

Joint List head Ayman Odeh speaks at the List’s Arabic launch event, Nazareth. (Photo courtesy of the Joint List)

Twelve years ago, in its report on the events of October 2000, the Or Commission of Inquiry wrote a statement that was unprecedented in the history of Israel’s Palestinian minority. After extensively criticizing the police’s violent conduct, the commission concluded: “The police must instill among its officers the understanding that the Arab community as a whole is not their enemy, and that it should not be treated as an enemy.”

Though perhaps unintended, the commission’s statement amounted to a symbolic indictment of Israel’s longstanding “enemy doctrine” toward its Palestinian citizens. For the first time, an official Israeli body was acknowledging the systemic hostility behind the state’s policies since 1948, and determined that those attitudes had to change in order to resolve the roots of the people’s grievances.

Twelve years later, however, it is clear that Israel has not absorbed any lessons from the report. Far from revising its enemy doctrine, the state has intensified it. Government ministers in charge of law enforcement spew out racist speech to delegitimize the rights of Palestinian citizens. The Shin Bet routinely monitors and harasses Palestinian activists for attending demonstrations or writing social media posts against Israeli policies. Now police officers have permission to open fire on Palestinians who throw stones in Israel just as they do against Palestinians in the occupied territories.

Israeli Border Police officers aim assault rifles toward Arab demonstrators in northern Israel during October 2000. (Courtesy of Adalah)

Israeli Border Police officers aim assault rifles toward Arab demonstrators in northern Israel during October 2000. (Courtesy of Adalah)

These continuing trends reveal how the idea of the internal enemy remains a powerful force for Israeli policy. It rallies many among the Jewish public behind the government and marginalizes criticism of their methods, bonding the state and society with assumptions of the dangers posed by the “other” Israeli citizens. No one questions the police’s violent suppression of anti-war protests, just as no one blinks when Palestinians like Kheir Hamdan are unjustifiably shot by the police. Netanyahu did not even have to give details last month to justify the use of live gunfire against Arabs in the Naqab; all he had to do was say there were people throwing stones in the South, and the public understood him.

The enemy doctrine is not only intrinsic in Israel’s security apparatus, but permeates all aspects of social and political life. Palestinian citizens today find themselves targeted by laws that deny their right to live where they wish, that intimidate them from speaking about their grandparents’ losses in the 1948 war, and that ban them from marrying Palestinians from the occupied territories. Arab political parties wanting seats in the Knesset are faced with disqualification motions and vilifying campaigns against their platforms and representatives. Contrary to claims of a democratic spirit, Israel’s laws and policies show that it fears everything about its minority: their presence, their narrative, their votes, and even their children.

There is a flip side in that many, if not most, Palestinian citizens view the state with the same enemy mentality as the state shows to them. But the hostility of a discriminated population toward an oppressive state is not the same as an oppressive state’s hostility toward a discriminated population. It is not just the fact that Israel is a colonial state that brought itself upon a native society, but that it is a state that makes ethno-racial identity the building block of its regime – and expands it in even more severe forms through its military occupation. This system, which the Jewish majority sees as justified in order to protect the “Jewish state,” guarantees nothing for Palestinians except their permanent inequality.

Palestinian citizens of Israel march to commemorate the killing of 13 protesters by Israeli police in October 2000, Sakhnin, October 1, 2015. (Omar Sameer/Activestills.org)

Palestinian citizens of Israel march to commemorate the killing of 13 protesters by Israeli police in October 2000, Sakhnin, October 1, 2015. (Omar Sameer/Activestills.org)

For Israel, the solution to ending its enemy doctrine is for Palestinians in the state to accept the hierarchy of their citizenship. But for Palestinians this is unacceptable. Their citizenship is not supposed to be a malleable tool to be reshaped as the Jewish majority sees fit; it should be a guarantor of their rights to the land, which belongs to them just as much as it belongs to Jews.

The Palestinian citizens’ struggle for equality is therefore anathema to Israel’s raison d’être, and in turn makes them a permanent enemy to be watched and controlled. If that entails a continued struggle over the state’s identity and character, then the very same factors that drove the October 2000 protests remain no different in 2015. Palestinian citizens only hope that others will realize it is better to be an enemy of the racial inequality espoused by the state, than to be a proponent for it.

October 2000 Banner

For additional original analysis and breaking news, visit +972 Magazine's Facebook page or follow us on Twitter. Our newsletter features a comprehensive round-up of the week's events. Sign up here.

Before you go...

A lot of work goes into creating articles like the one you just read. And while we don’t do this for the money, even our model of non-profit, independent journalism has bills to pay.

+972 Magazine is owned by our bloggers and journalists, who are driven by passion and dedication to the causes we cover. But we still need to pay for editing, photography, translation, web design and servers, legal services, and more.

As an independent journalism outlet we aren’t beholden to any outside interests. In order to safeguard that independence voice, we are proud to count you, our readers, as our most important supporters. If each of our readers becomes a supporter of our work, +972 Magazine will remain a strong, independent, and sustainable force helping drive the discourse on Israel/Palestine in the right direction.

Support independent journalism in Israel/Palestine Donate to +972 Magazine today
View article: AAA
Share article
Print article
  • LEAVE A COMMENT

    * Required

    COMMENTS

    1. BigCat

      “Palestinian citizens of Israel march to commemorate the killing of 13 protesters by Israeli police in October 2000, Sakhnin, October 1, 2015. (Omar Sameer/Activestills.org)”

      And during their marches and demonstrations, Muslim/Palestinian-Arab citizens of Israel display “Palestinian” “national” flag, Hezbollah’s flag, Hamas flag, ISIS flag and sometimes N@zi flags. They never carry Israeli flag. On the contrary, they burn Israeli- and US flags and chant down with Israel. http://www.gettyimages.ie/detail/news-photo/palestinian-students-holding-up-the-lebanese-flag-and-the-news-photo/71543919

      During wars, Muslim/Palestinian-Arab citizens of Israel openly side with the enemies (Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Iran) that are raining down missiles into Israeli civilian populations.

      Even Amjad Iraqi who – if not for Israel – would be a goat herder today, cannot say “I am a Palestinian citizen of Israel”, full stop. He says “I am a Palestinian citizen of Israel/Palestine”, while fooling himself that he is being clever!

      Right now, Muslim/Palestinian-Arabs are stabbing and killing innocent Jews with reckless abandon on the streets of Israel!

      Palestinian “CITIZENS” of Israel YOU say? Yeah, Right!!

      Reply to Comment
    2. Aaron Gross

      “[M]any, if not most, Palestinian citizens view the state with the same enemy mentality….”

      It’s good to have this out in the open. For one thing, it shows that Israel is not a (universal) democracy, not in any but the most formal sense of casting ballots. A sizable, stable, self-conscious minority of its citizenry rejects the very legitimacy of the state.

      Second, it serves as a useful contrast to other non-Jewish minorities, like the Druze. Contrary to the headline, there’s nothing inherent in a Jewish state that implies Arab citizens will be enemies. The Druze (at least those on the Carmel) are every bit as much “under occupation” as Muslim Arab citizens, but the Druze are loyal, patriotic citizens who serve in the army. So there’s nothing inevitable about Arab enmity to a Jewish state.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Well, yes, it is good to have this out in the open, except the “this” you want out in the open, Aaron Gross, is a blatant distortion created by crude editing. It was neither honest not swift to do that editing out in the open. Here, I’ve restored what it is indeed good to have out in the open:

        “There is a flip side in that many, if not most, Palestinian citizens view the state with the same enemy mentality as the state shows to them. But the hostility of a discriminated population toward an oppressive state is not the same as an oppressive state’s hostility toward a discriminated population. It is not just the fact that Israel is a colonial state that brought itself upon a native society, but that it is a state that makes ethno-racial identity the building block of its regime – and expands it in even more severe forms through its military occupation.”

        Reply to Comment
        • BigCat

          “Well, yes, it is good to have this out in the open, except the “this” you want out in the open, Aaron Gross, is a blatant distortion created by crude editing. It was neither honest not swift to do that editing out in the open. Here, I’ve restored what it is indeed good to have out in the open:”

          But you see, Benny, instead of offering YOUR OWN opinion, you just – AGAIN – copied and pasted the opinion of someone else! Because all you can do is produce on gibberish sentence, then run out of ideas and then copy and paste the foolish and unsubstantiated propaganda produced in someone else’s mind!

          You are a pathetic moron, Benny. If you want to be engaged on substance, PLEASE show us that YOU have substance and intelligent enough to engage in substance with substantiated arguments, not regurgitated propaganda. Can you do that, psychotic moron?

          Reply to Comment
    3. Tony Riley

      If Israel was as bad as the clown alleges, then he would be jailed for sedition.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Nice. Very apartheid of you.

        Reply to Comment
        • BigCat

          There you go again with your idiot “apartheid” mumbo jumbo!

          How is any of what Tony said “apartheid”, Benny? Is that how YOU “seek the truth” as you have been claiming for months/years now (while posing as “Bryan”)?

          Can you actually make arguments to support that? I am sure you do not have the brain-power to make such arguments, so, you are allowed to copy and paste the opinion of some Haaretz pundits! Try Zeeve Sternhell, or Amira Haas, or Gideon Levy, etc. …..just saying…….

          PLEASE present your well reasoned arguments to support that “apartheid” slur, “Ben” alias “Viktor Arajs” alias “Weiss” alias “MuslimJew” alias “Bryan” (with ‘y’) alias “Brian” (with ‘i’) alias “Bluto” alias “Richard Flantz” alias “David T.” alias “Dekkers” alias “Been There” alias “None” alias etc.

          We are waiting ……

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            You remind me of a screeching parrot.

            Reply to Comment
          • BigCat

            Oy! “Ben” is now angry and lashing out. Oh boy….

            The questions, moron, the question. Answer the questions!

            You can get angry and lash out all you want, but I am unto you – just so you know.

            Reply to Comment