2006-12-06 19:45:10 UTC
zealous commitment to racial exclusion of the indigenous people is
tearing the entire region apart.
Right now, one state power is sovereign in Palestine and that state is
It is an apartheid state because it excludes the territory's indigenous
people from citizenship solely on the basis of ethnicity. For let us
remember: The Palestinians' original sin - the "failing" has consigned
them collectively to expulsion, dispossession, exile, and a cruel and
humiliating occupation - is not bad leadership, missed opportunities,
stubborn insistence on their demands, Arafat, or any of the usual
shibboleths. It is that they are not Jewish.
What do we get from recognizing this fact? We may take clues from
public indications that Ariel Sharon before his stroke and Mr. Olmert
after him have been terribly anxious that we not do so. For what can
Israel do if it is truly held accountable for denying its territorial
population the right to vote? How can it exclude its native people from
equal citizenship if they ask for it? The common defence, the need to
preserve Jewish statehood, will instantly ring hollow. For Israel
styles itself a western-style democracy. Yet no western democracy is
presently attacking its own territory's population with mortar barrages
and helicopter gunships solely because of their ethnic identity. No
western democracy is blasting whole families to bits with mortars
solely because their ethnicity is unwelcome. No western democracy is
now encircling millions of people within walled cantons solely on the
basis of their religion or ethnicity.
Like "White Australia" and apartheid South Africa before it, Israel is
attempting to be racial state and a democratic state at the same time.
No western democracy has survived the obvious contradictions of this
formula: they all had to give it up. And apartheid Israel will not
survive it if we call the shots as they are. Like the US, South Africa,
New Zealand, and "White Australia" before it, Israel must admit its
Muslim and Christian population as citizens and then grapple with the
ensuing tough work of pluralist democracy like the rest of us.