Monday, March 11, 2019

Netanyahu doubles down on Israel as Jewish nation-state

If you were in any doubt at all about just how racist the modern state of Israel is, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it more than plain for everyone.
Last year Israel passed a highly controversial "nationality law", which basically states that Israel is a state of the Jewish people only. This effectively makes 17% of the population of Israel (i.e. the Arabs that live there, as opposed to in the designated areas of Palestine) all but stateless. The law also downgraded the Arabic language from an official language to a language with "special status", whatever that might mean, leaving Hebrew as the only official language; it baldly states an "undivided Jerusalem" is the capital of Israel; and it stipulates that "Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people, and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it". Not much wiggle room there! It is essentially a Jewish supremacy law, which makes Arabs second class citizens at best.
Now, however, Netanyahu is in electioneering mode, with national elections coming up in April, and he hopes to boost his status with his hard right-wing base by playing up the Jewish nation-state narrative. In response to a criticism by Israeli actor Rotem Sela on Instagram, Netanyahu doubled down: "Israel is not a state of all its citizens ... Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, and only it".
Netanyahu, who leads what is perhaps the most right-wing government in Israel's history, may be facing an uphill battle in the April election, not least because he is currently facing an indictment for corruption, but also because he is up against a centrist coalition with strong security credentials. The relatively small Arab parties are unlikely to be part of any post-election coalition, but they must really be praying to see the back of Netanyahu by whatever political means possible.

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