Monday, January 12, 2009

The most undemocratic democracy in the Middle East

In case you haven't heard, "The Central Elections Committee on Monday banned Arab political parties from running in next month's parliamentary elections [in Israel]." (Ha'

This is the Israel that keeps claiming that it is "the only democracy in the Middle East." The reason for the ban: these parties are allegedly guilty of "incitement, supporting terrorist groups and refusing to recognize Israel's right to exist." (ibid.).

Let's briefly explore these three accusations:

1. Incitement. This means, in this context, denouncing Zionism, opposing the Israeli occupation and oppression of Palestinian lands and persons, opposing human rights violations, such as the current war on Gaza. 

2. Supporting terrorist groups. What this really means is: calling upon Israeli authorities to negotiate with Hamas, Hizbullah and other groups in neighboring territories and countries, which are in dispute with Israel.

3. Refusing to recognize Israel's right to exist. This allegation pertains specifically to the argument that if Israel deems itself a true democracy, it must be a state of all its citizens rather than a "Jewish state." After all, if they were really not willing to recognize the state as such, would they be running for elected office in such a state?

If the views promoted in number 1 on this list are forbidden, this means that official Israel must never comply with United Nations resolutions, as Zionism, the occupation and the current war on Gaza were all denounced by the UN, some more than once.

Number 2: The PLO was once considered a terrorist organization. Some people still can't forgive assassinated  prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and President Shimon Peres for having negotiated with the late Yasser Arafat, but at some point in time their bold position won them extreme popularity – locally and worldwide – and a Nobel Peace Prize.

As for number 3, All i have to say is, gimme a fuckin' break!

Given its track record, it is likely (though there is no guarantee) that Israel's supreme court will overturn the decision of the highly politicized Central Elections Committee. But the mere fact that even Labor Party representatives voted in favor of the measure is alarming, angering, saddening and for me, yet another source of deep deep shame.

And let us not forget the 900+ murdered in Gaza in just over a fortnight by the strong army of this democratic state, of whom some 40% are women and children, who no one – even on the rightmost edge of the Israeli political spectrum – claims were ever guilty of anything. Except, perhaps, being part of a society that voted – in free, internationally overseen elections – for a party Israel loves to hate. 

Ironic? Or just evil?

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