by Khalid Amayreh
The latest news from the apartheid state of Israel speaks of a new bill submitted before the Knesset or Parliament, which would make Israel more Jewish and less democratic.
As many as 40 lawmakers representing major political parties subscribed to the fundamentally racist proposal which in the words of the Ha'aretz newspaper would make democratic rule subservient to the Jewish character of the state.
The draft legislation, which reportedly won support from across the political spectrum, is intended to give the courts "reasoning" that supports the state "as the Jewish nation-state in ruling in situations in which the Jewish character of the state clashes with its democratic character."
It would also make Hebrew the only official language.
Arabic, which is spoken by nearly 30% of Israel's population, is by law the second official language. The new bill would denigrate the status of Arabic in Israel, maintained ever since the establishment of the state in 1948.
The new bill would essentially give priority to the Talmudic laws at the expense of democratic secular laws. In the language of the bill, "If the court sees a legal question requiring a ruling, and finds no solution in legislation, custom or clear analogy, it will rule in light of the principles of freedom, justice, integrity and peace in Jewish heritage."
Some legislatures believe this is only a preliminary step toward the "full Talmudization: of the Israeli justice system.
The new draft-law is expected to receive an overwhelming approval from the Knesset, which is dominated by religious and right-wing parties.
It is also considered an advanced step toward the institutionalization of anti-Gentile racism in Israel.
Moreover, the new bill is considered a stark contradiction to repeatedly-made claims by Israeli and Zionist apologists and propagandists that Israel is both a Jewish and democratic state and that non-Jewish citizens have nothing to worry about as far their equality before the law is concerned.
In addition, the new draft law is likely to further enforce Palestinian rejection of incessant Israeli demands for recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.
Israel often sought to portray that demand as necessary to ensure Israeli Jews of future survival. Israel has one of the world's strongest armies and her supporters tightly control American politics and policies; consequently, it faces no survival problem. But Israel is worried about the continued growth of its non-Jewish population and fears this factor might eventually undermine the state's Jewish identity.
Hence, it is widely believed that Israel is harboring manifestly racist designs against its non-Jewish citizens, especially the large Palestinian community.
Needless to say, Israeli lawmakers, probably a majority, hope that a vigorous policy of discrimination, sanctioned by the laws of the state, against non-Jews, would eventually push as many non-Jewish citizens into leaving the country for good.
So far, the Israeli political establishment has resisted the temptation of introducing brazenly racist measures, including brashly discriminatory laws, out of concern about unfavorable international ramifications that might harm Israel's image.
However, with the American Jewish lobby decidedly in control of American politics, Israeli leaders don't seem to be a bit worried about any proactive reactions against Israel from western countries.
Likud MP Zeev Elkin, who cosponsored the bill, said he was not concerned over the implications of the bill for the image of Israel internationally. "If we were talking about the world in which the United Nations equates Zionism with racism, there might be a problem. But today the world is ready to accept this," he said.
Until fairly recently, the term "Jewish state" meant different things to different people. For example, secular-minded Jews argued that "Jewishness" had to do with culture and heritage as much as it did with religion.
None the less, due to the growing power and dominance of Jewish fundamentalist groups in Israel, a religious definition of who is a Jew is becoming slowly dominant as the Israeli Jewish society continues to drift toward right-wing chauvinism.
According to existing common understandings in Israel today, a Jewish state is simply a state where the laws of the land are based on Halakha or Talmudic Laws. This body of mostly anachronistic laws is inherently discriminatory against non-Jews living in the Jewish state.
The Bible (Old Testament) says non-Jews living under Halacha must be enslaved as water carriers and wood hewers.
Numerous Talmudic passages go as far as ascribing an animal status for non-Jews whose lives have no sanctity and whose flesh is like the flesh of donkeys and issue of semen like that of horses!!
In recent months, several prominent rabbis reasserted some of the more overtly racist Talmudic edicts which allow Jews to murder non-Jewish children at will if there is the lightest suspicion that these kids would be hostile to Jews when they grew up.
It is true that not all Jews subscribe to religious Judaic literature viewing non-Jews as fundamentally inferior.
Reform, conservative and progressive Jews, in addition to numerous secular and atheist Jews, scoff at the Orthodox rabbinic establishment, which is dominant in Israel, for "clinging to anachronistic and out-dated concepts that don't belong to this age."
However, it seems that the hegemonic Orthodox establishment is going to have its way irrespective of internal or external opposition.
Talmud vs. democracy
As mentioned above, the laws of the Talmud are the exact antithesis of the laws of democracy. This means that Israel cannot really be Talmudic (e.g. Jewish) and democratic at the same time. The contradiction between the two characters is intrinsic, absolute and eternal, which underscores the utter mendacity and falsehood of the Israeli claim that Israel is both a Jewish and democratic state.
A few weeks ago, this writer asked a prominent rabbi why Jews living in western countries vehemently opposed any discrimination on the basis of religion or ethnicity while in Israel most Jews were doing exactly the opposite, namely promoting and supporting anti-Gentile discrimination.
After clearing his throat, the rabbi said "God wanted Jews to live separately and have their own laws." I further asked him "do you not accept the principle of human equality among citizens, regardless of religion and race."? After some equivocation and prevarication the rabbi said: "Well, equality doesn't exist in nature. This is how the Almighty created us."
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|Liaquat Ali Khan|